Despite the development of more advanced medical therapies, cancer management remains a problem. Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is a particularly challenging malignancy and requires more effective treatment strategies and a reduction in the debilitating morbidities associated with the therapies. Phytochemicals have long been used in ancient systems of medicine, and non-toxic phytochemicals are being considered as new options for the effective management of cancer. Here, we discuss the growth inhibitory and anti-cell migratory actions of proanthocyanidins from grape seeds (GSPs), polyphenols in green tea and honokiol, derived from the Magnolia
species. Studies of these phytochemicals using human HNSCC cell lines from different sub-sites have demonstrated significant protective effects against HNSCC in both in vitro and in vivo models. Treatment of human HNSCC cell lines with GSPs, (−)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a polyphenolic component of green tea or honokiol reduced cell viability and induced apoptosis. These effects have been associated with inhibitory effects of the phytochemicals on the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), and cell cycle regulatory proteins, as well as other major tumor-associated pathways. Similarly, the cell migration capacity of HNSCC cell lines was inhibited. Thus, GSPs, honokiol and EGCG appear to be promising bioactive phytochemicals for the management of head and neck cancer.
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