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Role of Flavonoids in Future Anticancer Therapy by Eliminating the Cancer Stem Cells

[ Vol. 10 , Issue. 3 ]


Katrin Sak and Hele Everaus   Pages 271 - 282 ( 12 )


Despite the numerous recent advances made in conventional anticancer therapies, metastasis and recurrence still remain the major problems in cancer management. The current treatment modalities kill the bulk of the tumor, leaving cancer stem cells behind and therefore, the agents specifically targeting this cancer initiating cell population may have important clinical implications. In this review article, the data about the inhibitory action of flavonoids, both natural as well as their synthetic derivatives, on the self-renewal capacity and survival of cancer stem cells of different origins are compiled and analyzed. These data indicate that several plant secondary metabolites, including soy isoflavone genistein, green tea catechins and a widely distributed flavonol quercetin, have the potential to suppress the stemness markers and properties, traits of the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and migratory characteristics, being also able to sensitize these cells to the standard chemotherapeutic drugs. These polyphenolic compounds act through multiple signal transduction pathways, providing thus the maximal therapeutic response and offering some promise to be included in the future cancer treatment schemes in combination with the conventional therapies. Such approach may give an important contribution to the shift of cancer management from palliative to curative mode, likely leading to the disease-free survival. Thus, flavonoids can serve as attractive candidates for novel anticancer agents by eliminating the roots of cancer.


Cancer stem cells, chemosensitization, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, flavonoids, polyphenols, signal transduction mechanisms, stemness markers.


NGO Praeventio, Näituse 22- 3, Tartu 50407, Estonia.

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