The Role of Nutraceuticals in Pancreatic Cancer Prevention and Therapy: Targeting Cellular Signaling, MicroRNAs, and Epigenome

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Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive malignancies in US adults. Experimental studies have found that antioxidant nutrients could reduce oxidative DNA damage, suggesting that these antioxidants may protect against pancreatic carcinogenesis. Several epidemiologic studies showed that dietary intake of antioxidants was inversely associated with the risk for pancreatic cancer, demonstrating the inhibitory effects of antioxidants on pancreatic carcinogenesis. Moreover, nutraceuticals, the anticancer agents from diet or natural plants, have been found to inhibit the development and progression of pancreatic cancer through the regulation of cellular signaling pathways. Importantly, nutraceuticals also up-regulate the expression of tumor-suppressive microRNAs (miRNAs) and down-regulate the expression of oncogenic miRNAs, leading to the inhibition of pancreatic cancer cell growth and pancreatic cancer stem cell self-renewal through modulation of cellular signaling network. Furthermore, nutraceuticals also regulate epigenetically deregulated DNAs and miRNAs, leading to the normalization of altered cellular signaling in pancreatic cancer cells. Therefore, nutraceuticals could have much broader use in the prevention and/or treatment of pancreatic cancer in combination with conventional chemotherapeutics. However, more in vitro mechanistic experiments, in vivo animal studies, and clinical trials are needed to realize the true value of nutraceuticals in the prevention and/or treatment of pancreatic cancer.

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