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This article is peer reviewed. It is published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Volume 13, Issue 6, June 2012, Pages 7271-7282. ©MDPI Publishing


Apigenin, a flavonoid commonly present in the daily diet, is known for its potential anti-tumor properties. However, the effect of apigenin via oral administration on tumor growth and metastasis remains unknown. In this study we developed an orthotopic ovarian tumor model in nude mice to test the effect of apigenin oral administration, and showed that apigenin inhibited the micrometastasis of cancer cells in the animal tumor model. To understand the mechanism of apigenin in inhibiting metastasis, we found that apigenin greatly inhibited MMP-9 expression and p-AKT and p-p70S6K1 levels in the tumor tissues compared to the control group. We further demonstrated that the downregulation of MMP-9 by apigenin was mediated by the AKT/p70S6K1 pathway. These findings help to address the question with common interests to the public of whether oral uptake of flavonoids is effective in preventing cancer. Our results demonstrate for the first time that oral uptake of apigenin can inhibit tumor metastasis through MMP-9 expression using the orthotopic ovarian tumor model.