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      Litchi chinensis as a Functional Food and a Source of Antitumor Compounds: An Overview and a Description of Biochemical Pathways

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          Abstract

          Litchi is a tasty fruit that is commercially grown for food consumption and nutritional benefits in various parts of the world. Due to its biological activities, the fruit is becoming increasingly known and deserves attention not only for its edible part, the pulp, but also for its peel and seed that contain beneficial substances with antioxidant, cancer preventive, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory functions. Although literature demonstrates the biological activity of Litchi components in reducing tumor cell viability in in vitro or in vivo models, data about the biochemical mechanisms responsible for these effects are quite fragmentary. This review specifically describes, in a comprehensive analysis, the antitumor properties of the different parts of Litchi and highlights the main biochemical mechanisms involved.

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          Polyphenols and disease risk in epidemiologic studies.

          Plant polyphenols, a large group of natural antioxidants, are serious candidates in explanations of the protective effects of vegetables and fruits against cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Epidemiologic studies are useful for evaluation of the human health effects of long-term exposure to physiologic concentrations of polyphenols, but reliable data on polyphenol contents of foods are still scarce. The aim of this review is to summarize available epidemiologic data on the health effects of polyphenols, focusing on the flavonoid subclasses of flavonols, flavones, and catechins and on lignans. Data obtained to date suggest beneficial effects of both flavonoids and lignans on cardiovascular diseases but not on cancer, with the possible exception of lung cancer. There is a need for more research on stroke and lung diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Most studies to date have included only flavonols and flavones. With data becoming available for other polyphenols, these compounds should be included in future studies. Careful design of prospective studies is important to offset some of the major drawbacks of epidemiologic studies, including residual confounding (by smoking and other dietary factors) and exposure assessment.
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            Redox Homeostasis and Cellular Antioxidant Systems: Crucial Players in Cancer Growth and Therapy

            Reactive oxygen species (ROS) and their products are components of cell signaling pathways and play important roles in cellular physiology and pathophysiology. Under physiological conditions, cells control ROS levels by the use of scavenging systems such as superoxide dismutases, peroxiredoxins, and glutathione that balance ROS generation and elimination. Under oxidative stress conditions, excessive ROS can damage cellular proteins, lipids, and DNA, leading to cell damage that may contribute to carcinogenesis. Several studies have shown that cancer cells display an adaptive response to oxidative stress by increasing expression of antioxidant enzymes and molecules. As a double-edged sword, ROS influence signaling pathways determining beneficial or detrimental outcomes in cancer therapy. In this review, we address the role of redox homeostasis in cancer growth and therapy and examine the current literature regarding the redox regulatory systems that become upregulated in cancer and their role in promoting tumor progression and resistance to chemotherapy.
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              Cancer Preventive Activities of Tea Catechins

              Catechins are widely occurring in our diet and beverages. The cancer-preventive activities of catechins have been extensively studied. Of these, (−)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), the principal catechin in green tea, has received the most attention. The inhibitory activities of tea catechins against carcinogenesis and cancer cell growth have been demonstrated in a large number of laboratory studies. Many mechanisms for modulating cancer signaling and metabolic pathways have been proposed based on numerous studies in cell lines with EGCG, the most active tea catechin. Nevertheless, it is not known whether many of these mechanisms indeed contribute to the anti-cancer activities in animals and in humans. Human studies have provided some results for the cancer preventive activities of tea catechins; however, the activities are not strong. This article reviews the cancer preventive activities and mechanisms of action of tea catechins involving their redox activities, biochemical properties and binding to key enzymes or signal transduction proteins. These mechanisms lead to suppression of cell proliferation, increased apoptosis and inhibition of angiogenesis. The relevance of the proposed mechanisms for cancer prevention are assessed in the light of the situation in vivo. The potential and possible problems in the application of tea and tea-derived products for cancer prevention are discussed.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nutrients
                Nutrients
                nutrients
                Nutrients
                MDPI
                2072-6643
                08 September 2017
                September 2017
                : 9
                : 9
                : 992
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Experimental Biomedicine and Clinical Neurosciences, Laboratory of Biochemistry, University of Palermo, 90127 Palermo, Italy; sonia.emanuele@ 123456unipa.it (S.E.); marianna.lauricella@ 123456unipa.it (M.L.)
                [2 ]Department of Biological, Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Technologies, Laboratory of Biochemistry, University of Palermo, 90127 Palermo, Italy; giuseppe.calvaruso@ 123456unipa.it (G.C.); antonella.danneo@ 123456unipa.it (A.D.)
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: michela.giuliano@ 123456unipa.it ; Tel.: +39-091-238-90653
                Author information
                https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0157-3834
                https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1785-8236
                https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5114-6267
                Article
                nutrients-09-00992
                10.3390/nu9090992
                5622752
                28885570
                ed89762a-63ee-452d-a5c5-7a1ea4203ab8
                © 2017 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

                History
                : 28 July 2017
                : 04 September 2017
                Categories
                Review

                Nutrition & Dietetics
                litchi chinensis fruit extracts,nutraceutical properties,antitumor activity

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