Anthocyanins are polyphenolic ring-based flavonoids, and are widespread in fruits and vegetables of red-blue color. Epidemiological investigations and animal experiments have indicated that anthocyanins may contribute to cancer chemoprevention. The studies on the mechanism have been done recently at molecular level. This review summarizes current molecular bases for anthocyanidins on several key steps involved in cancer chemoprevention: (i) inhibition of anthocyanidins in cell transformation through targeting mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway and activator protein 1 (AP-1) factor; (ii) suppression of anthocyanidins in inflammation and carcinogenesis through targeting nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) pathway and cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) gene; (iii) apoptotic induction of cancer cells by anthocyanidins through reactive oxygen species (ROS) / c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK)-mediated caspase activation. These data provide a first molecular view of anthocyanidins contributing to cancer chemoprevention.
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