Dietary Phytochemicals and Cancer Chemoprevention: A Perspective on Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, and Epigenetics.
Chem Res Toxicol. 2016 Dec 19 ;29(12):2071-2095. Epub 2016 Dec 5. PMID: 27989132
Oxidative stress occurs when cellular reactive oxygen species levels exceed the self-antioxidant capacity of the body. Oxidative stress induces many pathological changes, including inflammation and cancer. Chronic inflammation is believed to be strongly associated with the major stages of carcinogenesis. The nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) pathway plays a crucial role in regulating oxidative stress and inflammation by manipulating key antioxidant and detoxification enzyme genes via the antioxidant response element. Many dietary phytochemicals with cancer chemopreventive properties, such as polyphenols, isothiocyanates, and triterpenoids, exert antioxidant and anti-inflammatory functions by activating the Nrf2 pathway. Furthermore, epigenetic changes, including DNA methylation, histone post-translational modifications, and miRNA-mediated post-transcriptional alterations, also lead to various carcinogenesis processes by suppressing cancer repressor gene transcription. Using epigenetic research tools, including next-generation sequencing technologies, many dietary phytochemicals are shown to modify and reverse aberrant epigenetic/epigenome changes, potentially leading to cancer prevention/treatment. Thus, the beneficial effects of dietary phytochemicals on cancer development warrant further investigation to provide additional impetus for clinical translational studies.