Bioreduction-Mediated Food-Drug Interactions: Opportunities for Oncology Nutrition


  • Melanie M. Erzinger ETH Zürich, Institute of Food, Nutrition and Health, Schmelzbergstrasse 9, CH-8092 Zürich
  • Shana J. Sturla ETH Zürich, Institute of Food, Nutrition and Health, Schmelzbergstrasse 9, CH-8092 Zürich;, Email:



Bioreductive drugs, Biotransformation, Cancer therapy, Dietary phytochemicals, Food–drug interactions


Chemical and biochemical processes underlying food–drug interactions in cancer therapy have not been well addressed with a systematic focus, even though they offer significant potential for enhancing the efficacy of cancer chemotherapy. Bioreductive anticancer drugs are metabolically activated by reductase enzymes. The levels and activities of relevant metabolic enzymes are regulated by transcription factors, which are under the control of chemical interactions with small molecules, including bioactive food components (BFCs) such as minerals, vitamins, and a variety of phytochemicals. One important and well-established process is the upregulation of enzymes involved in xenobiotic metabolism and redox regulation. Thus, BFCs might help to over come resistances of some cancer cells towards anticancer agents or to increase efficacy by sensitizing cancer cells towards synergistic drugs. By understanding chemical and biochemical processes involved in food–drug interactions, not only can the risk of harmful food–drug interactions be diminished, but appropriate nutritional recommendations for cancer patients can be made and new functional foods with specific benefits in anticancer therapy may be developed.




How to Cite

M. M. Erzinger, S. J. Sturla, Chimia 2011, 65, 411, DOI: 10.2533/chimia.2011.411.