The aim of the manuscript is to discuss the influence of plant polyphenols in overcoming multidrug resistance in four types of solid cancers (breast, colorectal, lung and prostate cancer). Effective treatment requires the use of multiple toxic chemotherapeutic drugs with different properties and targets. However, a major cause of cancer treatment failure and metastasis is the development of multidrug resistance. Potential mechanisms of multidrug resistance include increase of drug efflux, drug inactivation, detoxification mechanisms, modification of drug target, inhibition of cell death, involvement of cancer stem cells, dysregulation of miRNAs activity, epigenetic variations, imbalance of DNA damage/repair processes, tumor heterogeneity, tumor microenvironment, epithelial to mesenchymal transition and modulation of reactive oxygen species. Taking into consideration that synthetic multidrug resistance agents have failed to demonstrate significant survival benefits in patients with different types of cancer, recent research have focused on beneficial effects of natural compounds. Several phenolic compounds (flavones, phenolcarboxylic acids, ellagitannins, stilbens, lignans, curcumin, etc.) act as chemopreventive agents due to their antioxidant capacity, inhibition of proliferation, survival, angiogenesis, and metastasis, modulation of immune and inflammatory responses or inactivation of pro-carcinogens. Moreover, preclinical and clinical studies revealed that these compounds prevent multidrug resistance in cancer by modulating different pathways. Additional research is needed regarding the role of phenolic compounds in the prevention of multidrug resistance in different types of cancer.
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