Background: For many years, anticancer polyphenols have attracted significant attention as
substances that prevent tumor growth and progression. These compounds are simple phenolic acids,
complex phenolic acids, such as caffeoylquinic acids, rosmarinic acid and its derivatives, stilbenes,
flavones, isoflavones, and anthocyanins. Some compounds, such as tea and coffee polyphenols, can be
produced in large quantities by traditional methods, while many others cannot.
Methods: We reviewed the available literature regarding the biotechnological aspects of polyphenol
production by cultured plant cells and described approaches that have been used to obtain high levels of
anticancer polyphenols (resveratrol, podophyllotoxin, genistein, lithospermic acid B, and others).
Additionally, we provide our view on bioengineering strategies that could be important for the further
improvement of cell biosynthetic characteristics.
Results: The main trend in the field is the activation of entire biosynthetic pathways based on a
comprehensive knowledge of protein-protein interaction networks involved in the regulation of
polyphenol biosynthesis. As an example, we consider the jasmonate subnetwork, which will be
increasingly used by plant biotechnologists. The next-generation technologies to sustained polyphenol
production involve manipulations with microRNAs and reproduction of rol-gene effects.
Conclusion: Plant polyphenols play an important role in maintaining human health, and their role in the
prevention of cancer will continue to grow. Targeting mechanisms involved in uncontrolled cancer cell
proliferation will increasingly become the standard for cancer patients. Plant biotechnological studies
aiming at producing anticancer compounds will be developed in parallel with these studies to provide a
wider range of metabolites for each particular case.