Polyphenols Modulating Effects of PD-L1/PD-1 Checkpoint and EMT-Mediated PD-L1 Overexpression in Breast Cancer



Messeha SS, Zarmouh NO, Soliman KFA.


Nutrients. 2021 May 19;13(5):1718. doi: 10.3390/nu13051718.


Investigating dietary polyphenolic compounds as antitumor agents are rising due to the growing evidence of the close association between immunity and cancer. Cancer cells elude immune surveillance for enhancing their progression and metastasis utilizing various mechanisms. These mechanisms include the upregulation of programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression and Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) cell phenotype activation. In addition to its role in stimulating normal embryonic development, EMT has been identified as a critical driver in various aspects of cancer pathology, including carcinogenesis, metastasis, and drug resistance. Furthermore, EMT conversion to another phenotype, Mesenchymal-to-Epithelial Transition (MET), is crucial in developing cancer metastasis. A central mechanism in the upregulation of PD-L1 expression in various cancer types is EMT signaling activation. In breast cancer (BC) cells, the upregulated level of PD-L1 has become a critical target in cancer therapy. Various signal transduction pathways are involved in EMT-mediated PD-L1 checkpoint overexpression. Three main groups are considered potential targets in EMT development; the effectors (E-cadherin and Vimentin), the regulators (Zeb, Twist, and Snail), and the inducers that include members of the transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β). Meanwhile, the correlation between consuming flavonoid-rich food and the lower risk of cancers has been demonstrated. In BC, polyphenols were found to downregulate PD-L1 expression. This review highlights the effects of polyphenols on the EMT process by inhibiting mesenchymal proteins and upregulating the epithelial phenotype. This multifunctional mechanism could hold promises in the prevention and treating breast cancer.

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Link/DOI: 10.3390/nu13051718