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Antitumor Effects of the Benzophenanthridine Alkaloid Sanguinarine

March 17, 2016 -

Historically, natural products have represented a significant source of anticancer agents, with plant-derived drugs becoming increasingly explored. In particular, sanguinarine is a benzophenanthridine alkaloid obtained from the root of Sanguinaria canadensis, and from other poppy Fumaria species, with recognized anti-microbial, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Recently, increasing evidence that sanguinarine exibits anticancer potential through its capability of inducing apoptosis and/or antiproliferative effects on tumor cells, has been proved. Moreover, its antitumor seems to be due not only to its pro-apoptotic and inhibitory effects on tumor growth, but also to its antiangiogenic and anti-invasive properties. Although the precise mechanisms underlying the antitumor activity of this compound remain not fully understood, in this review we will focus on the most recent findings about the cellular and molecular pathways affected by sanguinarine, together with the rationale of its potential application in clinic.

The complex of data currently available suggest the potential application of sanguinarine as an adjuvant in the therapy of cancer, but further pre-clinical studies are needed before such an antitumor strategy can be effectively translated in the clinical practice.

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