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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2016, Article ID 3128951, 15 pages
Review Article

Role of Natural Stilbenes in the Prevention of Cancer

Department of Physiology, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Valencia, Avenida Vicente Andrés Estellés s/n, Burjassot 46100, Valencia, Spain

Received 3 July 2015; Revised 3 October 2015; Accepted 5 October 2015

Academic Editor: Zhenquan Jia

Copyright © 2016 J. Antoni Sirerol et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Natural stilbenes are an important group of nonflavonoid phytochemicals of polyphenolic structure characterized by the presence of a 1,2-diphenylethylene nucleus. Stilbenes have an extraordinary potential for the prevention and treatment of different diseases, including cancer, due to their antioxidant, cell death activation, and anti-inflammatory properties which associate with low toxicity under in vivo conditions. This review aims to discuss various approaches related to their mechanisms of action, pharmacological activities in animal models and humans, and potential chemoprevention in clinical studies. The biological activity of natural stilbenes is still incompletely understood. Furthermore, after administration to animals or humans, these molecules are rapidly metabolized. Thus pharmacokinetics and/or activities of the natural structures and their metabolites may be very different. Novel drug formulations have been postulated in order to improve stability and bioavailability, to minimize side effects, and to facilitate interaction with their domains in target proteins. These pharmacological improvements should lead stilbenes to become effective candidates as anticancer drugs.