Epoxycarotenoids form a family of about 200 natural pigments present in photosynthetic organisms, fungi, and
animal and human tissues. Numerous studies have evidenced that they exert strong antiproliferative, cytotoxic and proapoptotic
activities in cancer cells grown in vitro, and that some of them are resorbed per os, suggesting that they may
prevent cancer in vivo. This paper presents a comprehensive description of epoxycarotenoids reported up to 2011 (chemical
structure, natural sources, human and animal absorption studies, physiological metabolites) and reviews their biological
activity in cancer cells grown in vitro (antiproliferative, cytotoxic and pro-apoptotic activities; molecular and pharmacological
targets, ability to reverse multidrug resistance, anti-angiogenic activity).
Keywords: Epoxycarotenoid, carotenoid, epoxyxanthophyll, pigment, cancer, MDR, photosynthetic organisms, antiproliferative, cytotoxic, pro-apoptotic.
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