Epigenetic regulation of miRNA-cancer stem cells nexus by nutraceuticals



Nutraceuticals, the bioactive food components represented by many naturally occurring dietary compounds, have been investigated for a few decades for their numerous beneficial effects, including their anticancer properties. The initial interest in the cancer-preventing/therapeutic ability of these agents was based on their ability to affect multiple signaling pathways that are deregulated in cancer cells. With a shift in the focus of cancer research to the emerging areas such as epigenetic regulation, microRNAs (miRNAs) and the cancer stem cells (CSCs), nutraceuticals initially appeared out of place. However, research investigations over the last several years have slowly but firmly presented evidence that supports a relevance of these agents in modern day research. While nutraceuticals are increasingly being realized to alter miRNA/CSCs expression and function, the molecular mechanism(s) are not very clearly understood. Epigenetic regulation is one mechanism by which these agents exert their anticancer effects. In this focused mini review, we summarize our current understanding of epigenetic regulation of miRNAs and CSCs by nutraceuticals. We discuss both direct and indirect evidences that support such an activity of these compounds.