Therapeutic potential of quercetin on human breast cancer in different dimensions

  • Neda Kasiri
  • Mahshid Rahmati
  • Leila Ahmadi
  • Nahid EskandariEmail author
  • Hossein Motedayyen



There has been an extensive range of incidence and mortality of breast cancer (BC), and the comprehensively available treatments for BC have not been completely successful in achieving satisfactory outcomes up to date.


Recently, we are watching intense attention paid to the utilization of natural compounds as a novel therapeutic strategy for cancer treatment. Quercetin, a dietary flavonol in a large group of commonly consumed foods, is widely illustrated to apply inhibitory effects on cancer progression through several mechanisms including apoptosis enhancement, cell cycle arrest, metastasis and angiogenesis inhibition, antioxidant replication and estrogen receptor modulation.


We reviewed the most relevant papers published from 2009 to 2018 (except 15 articles), using “pub med” and “web of science” and the search terms “Quercetin”; “Breast cancer”; “Flavonoid”; “Apoptosis”; “Cell cycle”; “chemotherapy”; “Drug resistance”; “Metastasis; “Oxidative stress”, “Breast cancer receptors” and “Quercetin derivatives”. We selected studies on the association of quercetin with breast cancer in different dimensions.


Despite the remarkable number of studies on quercetin’s efficacy, multiple aspects of this herbal compound have not been clarified well and this review provides a summarized update of the recent evidence on biologically available efficacies of quercetin which would establish a further biological basis for the potential therapeutic acquisition of quercetin as an anticancer drug.


Basic, epidemiological and genetic studies point to the potential role of quercetin in the treatment of breast cancer, but randomized and controlled trials are of great importance to establish the clinical efficacy of quercetin in ill or at-risk subjects.


Breast cancer Quercetin Herbal compound Apoptosis Oxidative stress 



ATP-binding cassette transporters


AK strain transforming also known as protein kinase B (PKB): a serine/threonine-specific protein kinase


Activator protein 1: a transcription factor regulating gene expression


Apoptotic protease activating factor 1: a cytoplasmic protein that forms one of the central hubs in the apoptosis regulatory network


Ligand of death receptor


B-cell lymphoma 2: a founding member of the Bcl-2 family, regulating apoptosis


Caspase FLICE-like inhibitory protein: preventing DISC formation by binding to FADD and/or caspase-8 or -10 and TRAIL receptor 5 (DR5)


Death receptor: transmembrane proteins controlling the extrinsic pathway


Fas-associated protein with death domain: an adaptor protein bridging member of TNFR superfamily


Growth arrest and DNA damage: stress sensors modulating the response of mammalian cells to stress and tumor formation


Glutathione peroxidase: a tripeptide that act as an antioxidant and preventing cells of damage by reactive oxygen species


Hypoxia-inducible factor 1: subunit of hif transcription factor that is regulator of cellular and developmental response to hypoxia


The mammalian target of rapamycin, also known as FK506-binding protein 12-rapamycin-associated protein 1 (FRAP1): a kinase that regulates different cellular process


A mitogen-activated protein kinase: a type of protein kinase that activates transcription factors such as AP-1 in cells


Nuclear factor of activated T-cells: a family of transcription factors shown to be important in immune response. One or more members of the NFAT family are expressed in most cells of the immune system


The nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2): an emerging regulator of cellular resistance to oxidants which controls the expression of antioxidant response


Phosphatidyl inositol 3-kinase: a family of intracellular signal inducer enzymes involved in cellular functions such as cell growth, proliferation, differentiation and survival


Peptidyl-prolyl cistrans Isomerase NIMA-interacting 1: an enzyme that deregulation of this enzyme plays a role in different diseases


Pyruvate kinase isozyme M2 (PKM2) is metabolic-related enzymes expressed in different tissues


Reactive oxygen spices: formed as a natural byproduct of the normal metabolism of oxygen that includes peroxides, superoxide and hydroxyl radical


Superoxide dismutase: an important enzyme that helps in protecting against the damage of ROS


Tumor necrosis factor: a cell signaling protein involved in systemic inflammation and acute phase reactions


TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand: a protein functioning as a ligand that induces apoptosis


Vascular endothelial growth factor: a signal protein that stimulates the formation of blood vessels

MCF-7 cell line

Michigan cancer foundation-7: estrogen, progesterone receptors positive, HER2 negative and perfect model for hormone therapy

MDA-MB-231 cell line

M.D. Anderson-Metastasis Breast cancer-231: triple negative cell line (ER, PR and HER2 Negative) and shows intermediate response to chemotherapy

MDA-MB-468 cell line

M.D. Anderson-Metastasis Breast cancer-468: triple-negative cell line (ER, PR and HER2 negative) and often chemotherapy responsive



This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest. We have NO affiliations with or involvement in any organization or entity with any financial interest or non-financial interest in the subject matter or materials discussed in this manuscript.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Immunology, Faculty of MedicineIsfahan University of Medical SciencesIsfahanIran
  2. 2.Applied Physiology Research Center, Isfahan Cardiovascular Research Institute, Department of Immunology, School of MedicineIsfahan University of Medical SciencesIsfahanIran
  3. 3.Autoimmune Disease Research CenterKashan University of Medical ScienceKashanIran

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