Capsaicinoids enhance chemosensitivity to chemotherapeutic drugs

Jamie R Friedman, Stephen D Richbart, Justin C Merritt, Haley E Perry, Kathleen C Brown, Austin T Akers, Nicholas A Nolan, Cathryn D Stevenson, John D Hurley, Sarah L Miles, Maria T Tirona, Monica A Valentovic, Piyali Dasgupta
Advances in Cancer Research 2019, 144: 263-298
Cytotoxic chemotherapy is the mainstay of cancer treatment. Conventional chemotherapeutic agents do not distinguish between normal and neoplastic cells. This leads to severe toxic side effects, which may necessitate the discontinuation of treatment in some patients. Recent research has identified key molecular events in the initiation and progression of cancer, promoting the design of targeted therapies to selectively kill tumor cells while sparing normal cells. Although, the side effects of such drugs are typically milder than conventional chemotherapies, some off-target effects still occur. Another serious challenge with all chemotherapies is the acquisition of chemoresistance upon prolonged exposure to the drug. Therefore, identifying supplementary agents that sensitize tumor cells to chemotherapy-induced apoptosis and help minimize drug resistance would be valuable for improving patient tolerance and response to chemotherapy. The use of effective supplementary agents provides a twofold advantage in combination with standard chemotherapy. First, by augmenting the activity of the chemotherapeutic drug it can lower the dose needed to kill tumor cells and decrease the incidence and severity of treatment-limiting side effects. Second, adjuvant therapies that lower the effective dose of chemotherapy may delay/prevent the development of chemoresistance in tumors. Capsaicinoids, a major class of phytochemical compounds isolated from chili peppers, have been shown to improve the efficacy of several anti-cancer drugs in cell culture and animal models. The present chapter summarizes the current knowledge about the chemosensitizing activity of capsaicinoids with conventional and targeted chemotherapeutic drugs, highlighting the potential use of capsaicinoids in novel combination therapies to improve the therapeutic indices of conventional and targeted chemotherapeutic drugs in human cancers.


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