Thyroid cancer is the most common malignant tumor of the endocrine system and the incidence has been increasing in recent years. In a great part of the differentiated carcinomas, thyrocytes are capable of uptaking iodide. In these cases, the main therapeutic approach includes thyroidectomy followed by ablative therapy with radioiodine. However, in part of the patients, the capacity to concentrate iodide is lost due to down-regulation of the sodium-iodide symporter (NIS), the protein responsible for transporting iodide into the thyrocytes. Thus, therapy with radioiodide becomes ineffective, limiting therapeutic options and reducing the life expectancy of the patient. Excessive ingestion of some flavonoids has been associated with thyroid dysfunction and goiter. Nevertheless, studies have shown that some flavonoids can be beneficial for thyroid cancer, by reducing cell proliferation and increasing cell death, besides increasing NIS mRNA levels and iodide uptake. Recent data show that the flavonoids apingenin and rutin are capable of increasing NIS function and expression in vivo. Herein we review literature data regarding the effect of flavonoids on thyroid cancer, besides the effect of these compounds on the expression and function of the sodium-iodide symporter. We will also discuss the possibility of using flavonoids as adjuvants for therapy of thyroid cancer.
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