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Ionophores: Potential Use as Anticancer Drugs and Chemosensitizers

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, Hampton University, Hampton, VA 23668, USA
Great Plains Health, North Platte, NE 69101, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Cancers 2018, 10(10), 360;
Received: 23 August 2018 / Revised: 13 September 2018 / Accepted: 21 September 2018 / Published: 27 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensitization Strategies in Cancer Treatment)
PDF [734 KB, uploaded 27 September 2018]


Ion homeostasis is extremely important for the survival of both normal as well as neoplastic cells. The altered ion homeostasis found in cancer cells prompted the investigation of several ionophores as potential anticancer agents. Few ionophores, such as Salinomycin, Nigericin and Obatoclax, have demonstrated potent anticancer activities against cancer stem-like cells that are considered highly resistant to chemotherapy and responsible for tumor relapse. The preclinical success of these compounds in in vitro and in vivo models have not been translated into clinical trials. At present, phase I/II clinical trials demonstrated limited benefit of Obatoclax alone or in combination with other anticancer drugs. However, future development in targeted drug delivery may be useful to improve the efficacy of these compounds. Alternatively, these compounds may be used as leading molecules for the development of less toxic derivatives. View Full-Text
Keywords: ionophores; chemosensitization; obatoclax; nigericin; salinomycin; combination chemotherapy; stem cells ionophores; chemosensitization; obatoclax; nigericin; salinomycin; combination chemotherapy; stem cells

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Kaushik, V.; Yakisich, J.S.; Kumar, A.; Azad, N.; Iyer, A.K.V. Ionophores: Potential Use as Anticancer Drugs and Chemosensitizers. Cancers 2018, 10, 360.

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