School of Technology and Management, Polytechnic Institute of Leiria, Morro do Lena, Alto do Vieiro, 2411-901 Leiria, Portugal; Applied Molecular Biosciences Unit, NOVA School of Science and Technology, NOVA University of Lisbon, 2829-516 Caparica, Portugal. Electronic address: [Email]
Human exposure to environmental toxicants with diverse mechanisms of action is a growing concern. In addition to well-recognized carcinogens, various chemicals in environmental and occupational settings have been suggested to impact health, increasing susceptibility to cancer by inducing genetic and epigenetic changes. Accordingly, in this review, we have discussed recent insights into the pathological mechanisms of these chemicals, namely their effects on cell redox and calcium homeostasis, mitochondria and inflammatory signaling, with a focus on the possible implications for multi-stage carcinogenesis and its reversal by polyphenols. Plant-derived polyphenols, such as epigallocatechin-gallate, resveratrol, curcumin and anthocyanins reduce the incidence of cancer and can be useful nutraceuticals for alleviating the detrimental outcomes of harmful pollutants. However, development of therapies based on polyphenol administration requires further studies to validate the biological efficacy, identifying effective doses, mode of action and new delivery forms. Innovative microphysiological testing models are presented and specific proposals for future trials are given. Merging the current knowledge of multifactorial actions of specific polyphenols and chief environmental toxicants, this work aims to potentiate the delivery of phytochemical-based protective treatments to individuals at high-risk due to environmental exposure.