Special Issue "Medicinal Plants and Their Active Ingredients in Cancer"

A special issue of Cancers (ISSN 2072-6694). This special issue belongs to the section "Cancer Therapy".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 April 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Barbara Romano
Website
Guest Editor
University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy
Interests: pharmacology; natural products; cancer; neurotransmission; experimental pharmacology; preclinical pharmacology; CB1 receptor; PPARs; cannabinoids; endocannabinoids; CB2 receptor

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Cancer is a multifactorial disease driven by the accumulation of genetic mutations and epigenetic changes that lead to cell malignancy, and it has several distinctive signs, such as anti-apoptosis, proliferation, resistance to cell death, angiogenesis, invasion, migration, and metastasis. Globally, cancer remains a major problem in human health. As such, it is very important to prevent or treat several cancers.

Medicinal plants and their active ingredients play an important role in the discovery of new drugs and innovative mechanisms of action.

Medicinal plants contain multiple compounds which, individually or together, are responsible for the biological effects of these natural products. Although many natural products of plant origin have already been isolated and characterized, the molecular mechanisms underlying their therapeutic effects remain unexplored.

This Special Issue aims to contribute with original articles and reviews (e.g., systematic reviews) to the identification of chemopreventive agents that delay or block the carcinogenesis of human tumors. To ensure the quality of the articles in the special issue, the mechanism of action of the active compounds in the extracts and in vivo study should be included.

Prof. Dr. Raffaele Capasso
Dr. Barbara Romano
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Cancers is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • cancer
  • chemioprevention
  • medicinal plants
  • secondary metabolites
  • microbiota and cancer
  • pharmacological interactions
  • natural products
  • preclinical and clinical trials in cancer
  • nutraceuticals anc cancer
  • molecular mechanisms

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Novel Caffeic Acid Phenethyl Ester-Mortalin Antibody Nanoparticles Offer Enhanced Selective Cytotoxicity to Cancer Cells
Cancers 2020, 12(9), 2370; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12092370 - 21 Aug 2020
Abstract
Caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE) is a key bioactive ingredient of honeybee propolis and is claimed to have anticancer activity. Since mortalin, a hsp70 chaperone, is enriched in a cancerous cell surface, we recruited a unique cell internalizing anti-mortalin antibody (MotAb) to generate [...] Read more.
Caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE) is a key bioactive ingredient of honeybee propolis and is claimed to have anticancer activity. Since mortalin, a hsp70 chaperone, is enriched in a cancerous cell surface, we recruited a unique cell internalizing anti-mortalin antibody (MotAb) to generate mortalin-targeting CAPE nanoparticles (CAPE-MotAb). Biophysical and biomolecular analyses revealed enhanced anticancer activity of CAPE-MotAb both in in vitro and in vivo assays. We demonstrate that CAPE-MotAb cause a stronger dose-dependent growth arrest/apoptosis of cancer cells through the downregulation of Cyclin D1-CDK4, phospho-Rb, PARP-1, and anti-apoptotic protein Bcl2. Concomitantly, a significant increase in the expression of p53, p21WAF1, and caspase cleavage was obtained only in CAPE-MotAb treated cells. We also demonstrate that CAPE-MotAb caused a remarkably enhanced downregulation of proteins critically involved in cell migration. In vivo tumor growth assays for subcutaneous xenografts in nude mice also revealed a significantly enhanced suppression of tumor growth in the treated group suggesting that these novel CAPE-MotAb nanoparticles may serve as a potent anticancer nanomedicine. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Medicinal Plants and Their Active Ingredients in Cancer)
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Open AccessArticle
The Curcumin Analogue, EF-24, Triggers p38 MAPK-Mediated Apoptotic Cell Death via Inducing PP2A-Modulated ERK Deactivation in Human Acute Myeloid Leukemia Cells
Cancers 2020, 12(8), 2163; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12082163 - 04 Aug 2020
Abstract
Curcumin (CUR) has a range of therapeutic benefits against cancers, but its poor solubility and low bioavailability limit its clinical use. Demethoxycurcumin (DMC) and diphenyl difluoroketone (EF-24) are natural and synthetic curcumin analogues, respectively, with better solubilities and higher anti-carcinogenic activities in various [...] Read more.
Curcumin (CUR) has a range of therapeutic benefits against cancers, but its poor solubility and low bioavailability limit its clinical use. Demethoxycurcumin (DMC) and diphenyl difluoroketone (EF-24) are natural and synthetic curcumin analogues, respectively, with better solubilities and higher anti-carcinogenic activities in various solid tumors than CUR. However, the efficacy of these analogues against non-solid tumors, particularly in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), has not been fully investigated. Herein, we observed that both DMC and EF-24 significantly decrease the proportion of viable AML cells including HL-60, U937, and MV4-11, harboring different NRAS and Fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) statuses, and that EF-24 has a lower half maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) than DMC. We found that EF-24 treatment induces several features of apoptosis, including an increase in the sub-G1 population, phosphatidylserine (PS) externalization, and significant activation of extrinsic proapoptotic signaling such as caspase-8 and -3 activation. Mechanistically, p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activation is critical for EF-24-triggered apoptosis via activating protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) to attenuate extracellular-regulated protein kinase (ERK) activities in HL-60 AML cells. In the clinic, patients with AML expressing high level of PP2A have the most favorable prognoses compared to various solid tumors. Taken together, our results indicate that EF-24 is a potential therapeutic agent for treating AML, especially for cancer types that lose the function of the PP2A tumor suppressor. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Medicinal Plants and Their Active Ingredients in Cancer)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Carotenoids in Cancer Apoptosis—The Road from Bench to Bedside and Back
Cancers 2020, 12(9), 2425; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12092425 - 26 Aug 2020
Abstract
An incidence and mortality of cancer are rapidly growing worldwide, especially due to heterogeneous character of the disease that is associated with irreversible impairment of cellular homeostasis and function. Targeting apoptosis, one of cancer hallmarks, represents a potent cancer treatment strategy. Carotenoids are [...] Read more.
An incidence and mortality of cancer are rapidly growing worldwide, especially due to heterogeneous character of the disease that is associated with irreversible impairment of cellular homeostasis and function. Targeting apoptosis, one of cancer hallmarks, represents a potent cancer treatment strategy. Carotenoids are phytochemicals represented by carotenes, xanthophylls, and derived compounds such as apocarotenoids that demonstrate a broad spectrum of anti-cancer effects involving pro-apoptotic signaling through extrinsic and intrinsic pathways. As demonstrated in preclinical oncology research, the apoptotic modulation is performed at post-genomic levels. Further, carotenoids demonstrate additive/synergistic action in combination with conventional oncostatic agents. In addition, a sensitization of tumor cells to anti-cancer conventional treatment can be achieved by carotenoids. The disadvantage of anti-cancer application of carotenoids is associated with their low solubility and, therefore, poor bioavailability. However, this deficiency can be improved by using nanotechnological approaches, solid dispersions, microemulsions or biofortification that significantly increase the anti-cancer and pro-apoptotic efficacy of carotenoids. Only limited number of studies dealing with apoptotic potential of carotenoids has been published in clinical sphere. Pro-apoptotic effects of carotenoids should be beneficial for individuals at high risk of cancer development. The article considers the utility of carotenoids in the framework of 3P medicine. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Medicinal Plants and Their Active Ingredients in Cancer)
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Open AccessReview
Targeting Multiple Signaling Pathways in Cancer: The Rutin Therapeutic Approach
Cancers 2020, 12(8), 2276; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12082276 - 14 Aug 2020
Abstract
Multiple dysregulated signaling pathways are implicated in the pathogenesis of cancer. The conventional therapies used in cancer prevention/treatment suffer from low efficacy, considerable toxicity, and high cost. Hence, the discovery and development of novel multi-targeted agents to attenuate the dysregulated signaling in cancer [...] Read more.
Multiple dysregulated signaling pathways are implicated in the pathogenesis of cancer. The conventional therapies used in cancer prevention/treatment suffer from low efficacy, considerable toxicity, and high cost. Hence, the discovery and development of novel multi-targeted agents to attenuate the dysregulated signaling in cancer is of great importance. In recent decades, phytochemicals from dietary and medicinal plants have been successfully introduced as alternative anticancer agents due to their ability to modulate numerous oncogenic and oncosuppressive signaling pathways. Rutin (also known as rutoside, quercetin-3-O-rutinoside and sophorin) is an active plant-derived flavonoid that is widely distributed in various vegetables, fruits, and medicinal plants, including asparagus, buckwheat, apricots, apples, cherries, grapes, grapefruit, plums, oranges, and tea. Rutin has been shown to target various inflammatory, apoptotic, autophagic, and angiogenic signaling mediators, including nuclear factor-κB, tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukins, light chain 3/Beclin, B cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2), Bcl-2 associated X protein, caspases, and vascular endothelial growth factor. A comprehensive and critical analysis of the anticancer potential of rutin and associated molecular targets amongst various cancer types has not been performed previously. Accordingly, the purpose of this review is to present an up-to-date and critical evaluation of multiple cellular and molecular mechanisms through which the anticancer effects of rutin are known to be exerted. The current challenges and limitations as well as future directions of research are also discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Medicinal Plants and Their Active Ingredients in Cancer)
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Open AccessReview
Stable Isotope Tracing Metabolomics to Investigate the Metabolic Activity of Bioactive Compounds for Cancer Prevention and Treatment
Cancers 2020, 12(8), 2147; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12082147 - 03 Aug 2020
Abstract
A major hallmark of cancer is the metabolic reprogramming of cancer cells to fuel tumor growth and proliferation. Various plant-derived bioactive compounds efficiently target the metabolic vulnerabilities of cancer cells and exhibit potential as emerging therapeutic agents. Due to their safety and common [...] Read more.
A major hallmark of cancer is the metabolic reprogramming of cancer cells to fuel tumor growth and proliferation. Various plant-derived bioactive compounds efficiently target the metabolic vulnerabilities of cancer cells and exhibit potential as emerging therapeutic agents. Due to their safety and common use as dietary components, they are also ideal for cancer prevention. However, to render their use as efficient as possible, the mechanism of action of these phytochemicals needs to be well characterized. Stable isotope tracing is an essential technology to study the molecular mechanisms by which nutraceuticals modulate and target cancer metabolism. The use of positionally labeled tracers as exogenous nutrients and the monitoring of their downstream metabolites labeling patterns enable the analysis of the specific metabolic pathway activity, via the relative production and consumption of the labeled metabolites. Although stable isotope tracing metabolomics is a powerful tool to investigate the molecular activity of bioactive compounds as well as to design synergistic nutraceutical combinations, this methodology is still underutilized. This review aims to investigate the research efforts and potentials surrounding the use of stable isotope tracing metabolomics to examine the metabolic alterations mediated by bioactive compounds in cancer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Medicinal Plants and Their Active Ingredients in Cancer)
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Open AccessReview
Potentiality, Limitations, and Consequences of Different Experimental Models to Improve Photodynamic Therapy for Cancer Treatment in Relation to Antiangiogenic Mechanism
Cancers 2020, 12(8), 2118; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12082118 - 30 Jul 2020
Abstract
The relevance of experimentally gained information represents a long-term debating issue in the field of molecular biology research. The loss of original conditions in the in vitro environment affects various biological mechanisms and cellular interactions. Consequently, some biochemical mechanisms are lost or critically [...] Read more.
The relevance of experimentally gained information represents a long-term debating issue in the field of molecular biology research. The loss of original conditions in the in vitro environment affects various biological mechanisms and cellular interactions. Consequently, some biochemical mechanisms are lost or critically altered. Analyses in these modified conditions could, therefore, distort the relevancy of experimentally gained information. In some cases, the similarities with original conditions are so small that utilization of simpler in vitro models seems impossible, or could occur in a very limited way. To conclude, the study of more complex phenomena places higher demands on the complexity of the experimental model. The latest information highlights the fact that the tumor angiogenesis mechanism has very complex features. This complexity can be associated with a wide range of angiogenic factors expressed by a variety of malignant and non-malignant cells. Our article summarizes the results from various experimental models that were utilized to analyze a photodynamic therapy effect on tumor angiogenic mechanisms. Additionally, based on the latest information, we present the most important attributes and limitations of utilized experimental models. We also evaluate the essential problems associated with angiogenic mechanism induction after photodynamic therapy application. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Medicinal Plants and Their Active Ingredients in Cancer)
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Open AccessReview
Anti-Cancer Potential of Cannabinoids, Terpenes, and Flavonoids Present in Cannabis
Cancers 2020, 12(7), 1985; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12071985 - 21 Jul 2020
Abstract
In recent years, and even more since its legalization in several jurisdictions, cannabis and the endocannabinoid system have received an increasing amount of interest related to their potential exploitation in clinical settings. Cannabinoids have been suggested and shown to be effective in the [...] Read more.
In recent years, and even more since its legalization in several jurisdictions, cannabis and the endocannabinoid system have received an increasing amount of interest related to their potential exploitation in clinical settings. Cannabinoids have been suggested and shown to be effective in the treatment of various conditions. In cancer, the endocannabinoid system is altered in numerous types of tumours and can relate to cancer prognosis and disease outcome. Additionally, cannabinoids display anticancer effects in several models by suppressing the proliferation, migration and/or invasion of cancer cells, as well as tumour angiogenesis. However, the therapeutic use of cannabinoids is currently limited to the treatment of symptoms and pain associated with chemotherapy, while their potential use as cytotoxic drugs in chemotherapy still requires validation in patients. Along with cannabinoids, cannabis contains several other compounds that have also been shown to exert anti-tumorigenic actions. The potential anti-cancer effects of cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids, present in cannabis, are explored in this literature review. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Medicinal Plants and Their Active Ingredients in Cancer)
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Open AccessReview
Coumarins and Coumarin-Related Compounds in Pharmacotherapy of Cancer
Cancers 2020, 12(7), 1959; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12071959 - 19 Jul 2020
Abstract
Cancer is one of the most common causes of disease-related deaths worldwide. Despite the discovery of many chemotherapeutic drugs that inhibit uncontrolled cell division processes for the treatment of various cancers, serious side effects of these drugs are a crucial disadvantage. In addition, [...] Read more.
Cancer is one of the most common causes of disease-related deaths worldwide. Despite the discovery of many chemotherapeutic drugs that inhibit uncontrolled cell division processes for the treatment of various cancers, serious side effects of these drugs are a crucial disadvantage. In addition, multi-drug resistance is another important problem in anticancer treatment. Due to problems such as cytotoxicity and drug resistance, many investigations are being conducted to discover and develop effective anticancer drugs. In recent years, researchers have focused on the anticancer activity coumarins, due to their high biological activity and low toxicity. Coumarins are commonly used in the treatment of prostate cancer, renal cell carcinoma and leukemia, and they also have the ability to counteract the side effects caused by radiotherapy. Both natural and synthetic coumarin derivatives draw attention due to their photochemotherapy and therapeutic applications in cancer. In this review, a compilation of various research reports on coumarins with anticancer activity and investigation and a review of structure-activity relationship studies on coumarin core are presented. Determination of important structural features around the coumarin core may help researchers to design and develop new analogues with a strong anticancer effect and reduce the potential side effects of existing therapeutics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Medicinal Plants and Their Active Ingredients in Cancer)
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