Background: Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) is the conversion of epithelial
cells into mesenchymal phenotype generally observed during embryogenesis and wound healing as
well as in malignant transformation. Several signaling pathways and transcription factors associated
with EMT have been explored. Dietary phytochemicals that are multi-targeted agents which interfere
with these pathways, assume preventive potential against pathologic EMT.
Objective: The present review aims to provide a detailed description of the nature and characteristics
of EMT in physiological and pathophysiological conditions and the scope of phytochemicals in its
Method: Details regarding the initiation, progression as well as prevention of pathologic EMT and
metastasis and recent patents on preventive phytochemicals were obtained from PubMed literatures
and patent databases.
Results: The phenotypic changes during EMT are regulated by transcription factors like Snail, Slug,
Twist and Zeb, which are activated through diverse signaling pathways of TGF-β, NF-&kgr;B, Wnt and
Notch. Scientific documentations till date have identified numerous phytocompounds that are potent
enough to interfere with these signaling pathways, which in turn prevent pathological implications of
EMT. Present review also discusses 28 recent patents on those phytocompounds.
Conclusion: EMT is a significant pharmacological target for developing preventive agents to combat
pathological conditions like malignancy. Many of the phytochemicals cited in this review are being
enrolled for different phases of clinical trials for their efficacy. In spite of the major limitations regarding
bioavailability, sensitivity and tolerance of these compounds, their synthetic analogs, formulations
and efficient drug delivery systems are also being attempted which will hopefully generate productive
and promising results in near future.