Cancer and Metastasis Reviews

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 511–528 | Cite as

The role of nutraceutical proteins and peptides in apoptosis, angiogenesis, and metastasis of cancer cells

  • Elvira Gonzalez de Mejia
  • Vermont P. Dia


The process of carcinogenesis is complex and not easy to eliminate. It includes the initial occurrence of genetic alterations which can lead to the inactivation of tumor-suppressor genes and further accumulation of genetic alterations during tumor progression. Looking for food and food components with biological properties, collectively called nutraceuticals, that can hinder such alterations and prevent the inactivation of tumor-suppressor genes is a very promising area for cancer prevention. Proteins and peptides are one group of nutraceuticals that show potential results in preventing the different stages of cancer including initiation, promotion, and progression. In this review, we summarized current knowledge on the use of nutraceutical proteins and peptides in cancer prevention and treatment. We focused on the role of plant protease inhibitors, lactoferrin and lactoferricin, shark cartilage, plant lectins, and lunasin in the apoptosis, angiogenesis, and metastasis of cancer cells. Also included are studies on bioavailability and clinical trials conducted on these promising proteins and peptides.


Nutraceuticals Proteins Peptides Apoptosis Angiogenesis Metastasis 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the funding from the Illinois Soybean Association and the US Department of Agriculture World Food Initiative.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Food Science and Human NutritionUniversity of Illinois at Urbana–ChampaignUrbana–ChampaignUSA

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