The role of isoflavones in augmenting the effects of radiotherapy

Publication Name

Frontiers in Oncology


Cancer is one of the major health problems and the second cause of death worldwide behind heart disease. The traditional soy diet containing isoflavones, consumed by the Asian population in China and Japan has been identified as a protective factor from hormone-related cancers. Over the years the research focus has shifted from emphasizing the preventive effect of isoflavones from cancer initiation and promotion to their efficacy against established tumors along with chemo- and radiopotentiating effects. Studies performed in mouse models and results of clinical trials emphasize that genistein or a mixture of isoflavones, containing in traditional soy diet, could be utilized to both potentiate the response of cancer cells to radiotherapy and reduce radiation-induced toxicity in normal tissues. Currently ongoing clinical research explores a potential of another significant isoflavone, idronoxil, also known as phenoxodiol, as radiation enhancing agent. In the light of the recent clinical findings, this article reviews the accumulated evidence which support the clinically desirable interactions of soy isoflavones with radiation therapy resulting in improved tumor treatment. This review discusses important aspects of the development of isoflavones as anticancer agents, and mechanisms potentially relevant to their activity in combination with radiation therapy of cancer. It gives a critical overview of studies characterizing isoflavone targets such as topoisomerases, ENOX2/PMET, tyrosine kinases and ER receptor signaling, and cellular effects on the cell cycle, DNA damage, cell death, and immune responses.

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