Anticancer Natural Compounds as Epigenetic Modulators of Gene Expression
- Edward A. Ratovitski
- Current genomics
Malignancies of the genitourinary system have some of the highest cancer incidence and mortality rates. For example, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men and ovarian cancer mortality and incidence are near equal. In addition to genetic changes, modulation of the epigenome is critical to cancer development and progression. In this regard, epigenetic changes in DNA methylation state and DNA hypermethylation in particular have garnered a great deal of attention. While hypomethylation occurs mostly in repeated sequence such as tandem and interspersed repeats and segment duplications, hypermethylation is associated with CpG islands. Hypomethylation leads to activation of cancer-causing genes with global DNA hypomethylation being commonly associated with metastatic disease. Hypermethylation-mediated silencing of tumor-suppressive genes is commonly associated with cancer development. Bioactive phytochemicals such as flavonoids present in fruits, vegetables, beverages, etc. have the ability to modulate DNA methylation status and are therefore very valuable agents for cancer prevention. In this review, we discuss several commonly methylated genes and flavonoids used to modulate DNA methylation in the prevention of genitourinary cancers.