Special Issue "Anticancer Compounds in Medicinal Plants"

A special issue of Pharmaceuticals (ISSN 1424-8247). This special issue belongs to the section "Natural Products".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 November 2021) | Viewed by 31524

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Paulo Santos
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Centro de Química - Vila Real, Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, 5001-801 Vila Real, Portugal
Interests: organic synthesis; functional dyes; structural analysis; natural products chemistry; bioactive compounds
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Lillian Barros
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Cancer, in its multiple forms, is presently one of the leading causes of death in both developing and developed countries, and it has become a major health problem and burden for most public health care systems worldwide. Although several decades of drug discovery and development have provided a number of useful chemotherapeutic agents, there is a continuous interest in the search for new chemical entities with improved anticancer effectiveness and safety.

Since ancient times, humankind has relied on herbal medicines for the treatment and prevention of a plethora of different ailments, and their beneficial properties have been recognized both by traditional medicines and more contemporary herbalism practices. Medicinal plants, which have made an important contribution to the collection of compounds that are now at our disposal for cancer therapy, constitute a reservoir of natural products able to provide new molecules with anticancer activity and new molecular frameworks capable of inspiring the design of derivatives with improved therapeutic ability. As plant-derived compounds are often not cytotoxic to normal human cells, the attention of scientific research has been increasingly driven towards natural compounds, as they may represent a source of anticancer molecules with less-toxic side effects compared to current chemotherapeutic drugs.

This Special Issue “Anticancer Compounds in Medicinal Plants” invites researchers to contribute original research or review articles related to natural compounds with anticancer properties isolated from medicinal plants. The contributions include the discovery of new compounds, the in vitro and in vivo assessment of the anticancer properties of compounds derived from medicinal plants, as well as the elucidation of their mechanisms of action and the design of derivatives with improved efficacy.

Prof. Paulo Santos
Dr. Lillian Barros
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 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

  • Natural products
  • Phytochemicals
  • Cancer
  • Secondary metabolites
  • Medicinal plants

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Published Papers (21 papers)

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Article
Baicalein Inhibits Metastatic Phenotypes in Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma Cells via a Focal Adhesion Protein Integrin β8
Pharmaceuticals 2022, 15(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph15010005 - 21 Dec 2021
Viewed by 1106
Abstract
Baicalein, a prominent flavonoid from the indigenous herbal plant Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi, possesses broad-spectrum anticancer activities. However, the biological effects of baicalein on nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) and its underlying mechanisms remain unclarified. Thus, in this study, we examined the effects of baicalein on [...] Read more.
Baicalein, a prominent flavonoid from the indigenous herbal plant Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi, possesses broad-spectrum anticancer activities. However, the biological effects of baicalein on nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) and its underlying mechanisms remain unclarified. Thus, in this study, we examined the effects of baicalein on NPC cell lines and investigated the corresponding molecular mechanism through transcriptome profiling. In the study, four NPC cell lines were treated with various concentrations of baicalein at different time points. Cellular toxicity and proliferative inhibition of baicalein were examined by MTT assay. Metastatic phenotypes of NPC cells were investigated by wound healing, transwell, and adhesion assays. Additionally, microarray experiments were performed to determine the cellular pathways affected by baicalein. The expression and localization of the integrin β8 were validated by western immunoblotting and immunofluorescence. Our results revealed that baicalein exhibited its cytotoxicity and antiproliferative activity on all tested NPC cell lines. It also significantly inhibited metastatic phenotypes at sub-lethal concentrations. Transcriptomic analysis showed that baicalein significantly affected the focal adhesion pathway in NPC, where integrin β8 was greatly diminished. Thus, the present study results suggested that baicalein inhibits the metastatic phenotypes of NPC cells by modulating integrin β8, one of the major molecules in a focal adhesion pathway. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anticancer Compounds in Medicinal Plants)
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Article
Mechanistic Insight into Apoptotic Induction in Human Rhabdomyosarcoma and Breast Adenocarcinoma Cells by Chnoospora minima: A Sri Lankan Brown Seaweed
Pharmaceuticals 2021, 14(11), 1154; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph14111154 - 12 Nov 2021
Viewed by 577
Abstract
The current study determined the cytotoxic and apoptotic potential of the polyphenol-rich methanol extract of Chnoospora minima (C. minima) and its fractions against human breast adenocarcinoma (MCF-7) and rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) cells. MTT and neutral red assays were used to determine cytotoxicity. [...] Read more.
The current study determined the cytotoxic and apoptotic potential of the polyphenol-rich methanol extract of Chnoospora minima (C. minima) and its fractions against human breast adenocarcinoma (MCF-7) and rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) cells. MTT and neutral red assays were used to determine cytotoxicity. The clonogenic assay evaluated the antineoplastic activity, while the apoptotic activity was determined by cellular morphological changes, caspase 3/7 activity, and DNA fragmentation. Morphological alterations in apoptosis were observed by an inverted phase-contrast microscope and Hoechst 33342 staining methods. The total phenolic, flavonoids, alkaloids, and antioxidant activity in the hexane and chloroform fractions were determined, based on their cytotoxic activity. The hexane fraction of C. minima effectively reduced the cell growth that is concentration-dependent in human RMS and MCF-7 cell lines. It also exhibited low cytotoxicity on Vero cells. The characteristic cellular and nuclear apoptotic morphological features were observed. A noticeable caspase 3/7 activation and the fragmented DNA were detected only in the hexane fraction treated RMS cells, whereas MCF-7 cells showed low caspase 3/7 activation due to a lack of caspase 3 and no evidence of having a typical ladder pattern of apoptosis. Further analysis revealed that the hexane fraction-treated RMS cells upregulated the p53 gene twofold (2.72) compared to the p21 (0.77) gene, whereas in the MCF-7 cells, a 2.21-fold upregulation of p53 was observed compared to the p21 (0.64) gene. The hexane fraction exhibited moderate total phenolics, flavonoids, alkaloids content, and antioxidant activity. According to the different antioxidant mechanisms, hexane and chloroform fractions showed the highest antioxidant activities by FRAP and ORAC assays, respectively. GC-MS analysis of hexane fraction revealed the presence of methyl tetradecanoate (38.314%) as the most abundant compound. The study’s findings highlighted that the non-polar compounds present in the hexane fraction of C. minima suppressed cell proliferation and induced apoptosis-mediated cell death in RMS and MCF-7 cells, mainly via the activation of the p53 gene. Hence, the isolation of compounds is warranted. However, more studies are required to understand the mechanistic insights of these observations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anticancer Compounds in Medicinal Plants)
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Article
Pongol Methyl Ether Inhibits Akt and Suppresses Cancer Stem Cell Phenotypes in Lung Cancer Cells
Pharmaceuticals 2021, 14(11), 1085; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph14111085 - 26 Oct 2021
Viewed by 1259
Abstract
Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are an important therapeutic target. The therapeutic agents targeting CSCs should lead to improved clinical outcomes. Here we have demonstrated the CSC-suppressing activity of pongol methyl ether (PME), a pure compound from Millettia erythrocalyx. Methods: CSC-suppressing effects were [...] Read more.
Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are an important therapeutic target. The therapeutic agents targeting CSCs should lead to improved clinical outcomes. Here we have demonstrated the CSC-suppressing activity of pongol methyl ether (PME), a pure compound from Millettia erythrocalyx. Methods: CSC-suppressing effects were evaluated by spheroid formation assay and detection of CSC markers. The related CSC cell signals were evaluated by Western blot, immunofluorescence and molecular docking analysis. Proteins affected by PME treatment were subjected to bioinformatic analysis. Protein–protein interaction (PPI) networks were constructed by the Search Tool for Interactions of Chemicals (STITCH). The Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) mapper were used to confirm the underlying pathways. Results: PME (5–25 µM) significantly suppressed the ability of lung cancer cells to form colonies, grow in an anchorage-independent manner and generate tumour spheroids. PME at 25 µM significantly decreased the CSC markers (CD133 and ALDH1A1) and pluripotent transcription factors (Oct4 and Nanog). Akt, the key upstream signal of CSC control, was significantly decreased by the PME treatment. The molecular docking indicated that PME was bound to Akt-1 with a binding affinity of −9.2 kcal/mol greater than the Akt-1 inhibitor (reference compound; CQW). The STITCH network identified a total of 15 proteins interacted in PPI networks, and Akt-1 was identified as a central protein. The KEGG mapper indicated that the selected CSC markers were mostly involved in the ‘signalling pathways regulating pluripotency of stem cells’ pathway map and Akt, Oct4 and Nanog were the regulatory proteins in the dominant pathway. In addition, PME (10–25 µM) can suppress spheroid formation and reduce CSC-specific marker expression in patient-derived primary lung cancer cells. Conclusions: Our study revealed a novel pharmacological effect and the underlying mechanism of PME that can attenuate CSC phenotypes in lung cancer cells and may be developed for lung cancer therapy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anticancer Compounds in Medicinal Plants)
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Article
EGCG Inhibits Tumor Growth in Melanoma by Targeting JAK-STAT Signaling and Its Downstream PD-L1/PD-L2-PD1 Axis in Tumors and Enhancing Cytotoxic T-Cell Responses
Pharmaceuticals 2021, 14(11), 1081; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph14111081 - 26 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1086
Abstract
Over the last decade, therapies targeting immune checkpoints, such as programmed death-1 (PD-1), have revolutionized the field of cancer immunotherapy. However, low response rates and immune-related adverse events remain a major concern. Here, we report that epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), the most abundant catechin [...] Read more.
Over the last decade, therapies targeting immune checkpoints, such as programmed death-1 (PD-1), have revolutionized the field of cancer immunotherapy. However, low response rates and immune-related adverse events remain a major concern. Here, we report that epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), the most abundant catechin in green tea, inhibits melanoma growth by modulating an immune response against tumors. In vitro experiments revealed that EGCG treatment inhibited interferon-gamma (IFN-γ)-induced PD-L1 and PD-L2 expression and JAK-STAT signaling. We confirmed that this effect was driven by inhibiting STAT1 gene expression and STAT1 phosphorylation, thereby downregulating the PD-L1/PD-L2 transcriptional regulator IRF1 in both human and mouse melanoma cells. Animal studies revealed that the in vivo tumor-inhibitory effect of EGCG was through CD8+ T cells and that the inhibitory effect of EGCG was comparable to anti-PD-1 therapy. However, their mechanisms of action were different. Dissimilar to anti-PD-1 treatment that blocks PD-1/PD-L1 interaction, EGCG inhibited JAK/STAT signaling and PD-L1 expression in tumor cells, leading to the re-activation of T cells. In summary, we demonstrate that EGCG enhances anti-tumor immune responses by inhibiting JAK-STAT signaling in melanoma. EGCG could be used as an alternative treatment strategy to target the PD-L1/PD-L2-PD-1 axis in cancers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anticancer Compounds in Medicinal Plants)
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Article
New Insights into Curcumin- and Resveratrol-Mediated Anti-Cancer Effects
Pharmaceuticals 2021, 14(11), 1068; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph14111068 - 22 Oct 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1167
Abstract
Curcumin and resveratrol are bioactive natural compounds displaying anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-cancer properties. In this study, we compared the cytotoxic effects of these molecules and the molecular mechanisms involved against Her-2/neu-positive breast and salivary cancer cell lines. We found that both curcumin and [...] Read more.
Curcumin and resveratrol are bioactive natural compounds displaying anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-cancer properties. In this study, we compared the cytotoxic effects of these molecules and the molecular mechanisms involved against Her-2/neu-positive breast and salivary cancer cell lines. We found that both curcumin and resveratrol were efficient in reducing cancer cell survival and that they differently affected autophagy, ROS and activation of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway. Moreover, we found that resveratrol and curcumin in combination exerted a stronger cytotoxic effect in correlation with the induction of a stronger ER stress and the upregulation of pro-death UPR molecule CHOP. This effect also correlated with the induction of pro-survival autophagy by curcumin and its inhibition by resveratrol. In conclusion, this study unveils new molecular mechanisms underlying the anti-cancer effects of resveratrol, curcumin and their combination, which can help to design new therapeutic strategies based on the use of these polyphenols. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anticancer Compounds in Medicinal Plants)
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Article
Exploring the Monoterpene Indole Alkaloid Scaffold for Reversing P-Glycoprotein-Mediated Multidrug Resistance in Cancer
Pharmaceuticals 2021, 14(9), 862; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph14090862 - 28 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1400
Abstract
Dregamine (1), a major monoterpene indole alkaloid isolated from Tabernaemontana elegans, was submitted to chemical transformation of the ketone function, yielding 19 azines (321) and 11 semicarbazones (2232) bearing aliphatic or aromatic substituents. [...] Read more.
Dregamine (1), a major monoterpene indole alkaloid isolated from Tabernaemontana elegans, was submitted to chemical transformation of the ketone function, yielding 19 azines (321) and 11 semicarbazones (2232) bearing aliphatic or aromatic substituents. Their structures were assigned mainly by 1D and 2D NMR (COSY, HMQC, and HMBC) experiments. Compounds 332 were evaluated as multidrug resistance (MDR) reversers through functional and chemosensitivity assays in a human ABCB1-transfected mouse T-lymphoma cell model, overexpressing P-glycoprotein. A significant increase of P-gp inhibitory activity was observed for most derivatives, mainly those containing azine moieties with aromatic substituents. Compounds with trimethoxyphenyl (17) or naphthyl motifs (18, 19) were among the most active, exhibiting strong inhibition at 0.2 µM. Moreover, most of the derivatives showed selective antiproliferative effects toward resistant cells, having a collateral sensitivity effect. In drug combination assays, all compounds showed to interact synergistically with doxorubicin. Selected compounds (12, 17, 18, 20, and 29) were evaluated in the ATPase activity assay, in which all compounds but 12 behaved as inhibitors. To gather further insights on drug–receptor interactions, in silico studies were also addressed. A QSAR model allowed us to deduce that compounds bearing bulky and lipophilic substituents were stronger P-gp inhibitors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anticancer Compounds in Medicinal Plants)
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Article
Ampelopsin Suppresses Stem Cell Properties Accompanied by Attenuation of Oxidative Phosphorylation in Chemo- and Radio-Resistant MDA-MB-231 Breast Cancer Cells
Pharmaceuticals 2021, 14(8), 794; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph14080794 - 12 Aug 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1645
Abstract
Ampelopsin, also known as dihydromyricetin, is a commonly found flavonoid in medicinal plants. The cancer stem cell (CSC) population is a promising target for triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). In this study, flavonoid screening was performed in the established MDA-MB-231/IR cell line, which is [...] Read more.
Ampelopsin, also known as dihydromyricetin, is a commonly found flavonoid in medicinal plants. The cancer stem cell (CSC) population is a promising target for triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). In this study, flavonoid screening was performed in the established MDA-MB-231/IR cell line, which is enriched in CSCs. Ampelopsin suppressed the proliferation and colony formation of stem cell-rich MDA-MB-231/IR, while inducing their apoptosis. Importantly, ampelopsin displayed an inhibitory impact on the stemness features of MDA-MB-231/IR cells, demonstrated by decreases in mammosphere formation, the CD44+/CD24−/low population, aldehyde dehydrogenase activity, and the levels of stem cell markers (e.g., CD44, MRP1, β-catenin, and KLF4). Ampelopsin also suppressed the epithelial–mesenchymal transition, as evidenced by decreases in migration, invasion capacity, and mesenchymal markers, as well as an increase in the epithelial marker E-cadherin. Moreover, ampelopsin significantly impaired oxidative phosphorylation by reducing the oxygen consumption rate and adenosine triphosphate production in MDA-MB-231/IR cells. Notably, ampelopsin treatment significantly reduced the levels of the phosphorylated forms of IκBα and NF-κB p65, as well as the levels of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α-stimulated phosphorylation of IκBα and NF-κB p65. These results demonstrated that ampelopsin prevents the TNF-α/NF-κB signaling axis in breast CSCs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anticancer Compounds in Medicinal Plants)
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Article
Antileukemic Activity and Molecular Docking Study of a Polyphenolic Extract from Coriander Seeds
Pharmaceuticals 2021, 14(8), 770; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph14080770 - 05 Aug 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1628
Abstract
Leukemia is a group of hematological neoplastic disorders linked to high mortality rates worldwide, but increasing resistance has led to the therapeutic failure of conventional chemotherapy. This study aimed to evaluate in vitro the antileukemic activity and potential mechanism of action of a [...] Read more.
Leukemia is a group of hematological neoplastic disorders linked to high mortality rates worldwide, but increasing resistance has led to the therapeutic failure of conventional chemotherapy. This study aimed to evaluate in vitro the antileukemic activity and potential mechanism of action of a polyphenolic extract obtained from the seeds of Coriandrum sativum L. (CSP). A methylthiazoletetrazolium assay was performed to assess the CSP cytotoxicity on chronic (K562) and acute (HL60) myeloid leukemia cell lines and on normal Vero cell line. CSP toxicity was also evaluated in vivo using the OECD 423 acute toxicity model on Swiss albino mice. The results demonstrated a remarkable antitumoral activity against K562 and HL60 cell lines (IC50 = 16.86 µM and 11.75 µM, respectively) although no cytotoxicity was observed for the Vero cells or mice. A silico study was performed on the following receptors that are highly implicated in the development of leukemia: ABL kinase, ABL1, BCL2, and FLT3. The molecular docking demonstrated a high affinity interaction between the principal CSP components and the receptors. Our findings demonstrated that CSP extract has remarkable antileukemic activity, which is mainly mediated by the flavonoids, catechins, and rutin, all of which showed the highest binding affinity for the targeted receptors. This study revealed a promising active compound alternative research-oriented biopharmacists to explore. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anticancer Compounds in Medicinal Plants)
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Article
Biological Impact of Phenolic Compounds from Coffee on Colorectal Cancer
Pharmaceuticals 2021, 14(8), 761; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph14080761 - 03 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1136
Abstract
Colorectal cancer is one of the leading death-related diseases worldwide, usually induced by a multifactorial and complex process, including genetic and epigenetic abnormalities and the impact of diet and lifestyle. In the present study, we evaluated the biological impact of two of the [...] Read more.
Colorectal cancer is one of the leading death-related diseases worldwide, usually induced by a multifactorial and complex process, including genetic and epigenetic abnormalities and the impact of diet and lifestyle. In the present study, we evaluated the biological impact of two of the main coffee polyphenols, chlorogenic acid (CGA) and caffeic acid (CA), as well as two polyphenol-rich coffee extracts (green coffee extract and toasted coffee Extract) against SW480 and SW620 colorectal cancer cells. First, the total phenolic content and the antioxidant capability of the extracts were determined. Then, cytotoxicity was evaluated by MTT and SBR. Finally, a wound healing assay was performed to determine the impact on the cell migration process. The results showed a cytotoxic effect of all treatments in a time and dose-dependent manner, which decreased the viability in both cell lines at 24 h and 48 h; likewise, the migration capability of cells decreased with low doses of treatments. These results suggest the potential of coffee to modulate biological mechanisms involved in colorectal cancer development; however, more studies are required to understand the mechanistic insights of these observations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anticancer Compounds in Medicinal Plants)
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Article
3′,4′-Dihydroxyflavonol Modulates the Cell Cycle in Cancer Cells: Implication as a Potential Combination Drug in Osteosarcoma
Pharmaceuticals 2021, 14(7), 640; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph14070640 - 03 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1123
Abstract
New agents are demanded to increase the therapeutic options for osteosarcoma (OS). Although OS is the most common bone cancer in children and adolescents, it is considered a rare disorder. Therefore, finding adjuvant drugs has potential to advance therapy for this disease. In [...] Read more.
New agents are demanded to increase the therapeutic options for osteosarcoma (OS). Although OS is the most common bone cancer in children and adolescents, it is considered a rare disorder. Therefore, finding adjuvant drugs has potential to advance therapy for this disease. In this study, 3′,4′-dihydroxyflavonol (DiOHF) was investigated to assess the effects in OS cellular models in combination with doxorubicin (Dox). MG-63 and U2OS human OS cells were exposed to DiOHF and Dox and tested for cell viability and growth. To elucidate the inhibitory effects of DiOHF, additional studies were conducted to assess apoptosis and cell cycle distribution, gene expression quantification of cell cycle regulators, and cytokinesis-block cytome assay to determine nuclear division rate. DiOHF decreased OS cell growth and viability in a concentration-dependent manner. Its combination with Dox enabled Dox dose reduction in both cell lines, with synergistic interactions in U2OS cells. Although no significant apoptotic effects were detected at low concentrations, cytostatic effects were demonstrated in both cell lines. Incubation with DiOHF altered cell cycle dynamics and resulted in differential cyclin and cyclin-dependent kinase expression. Overall, this study presents an antiproliferative action of DiOHF in OS combination therapy via modulation of the cell cycle and nuclear division. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anticancer Compounds in Medicinal Plants)
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Article
Structure-Based Virtual Screening and De Novo Design of PIM1 Inhibitors with Anticancer Activity from Natural Products
Pharmaceuticals 2021, 14(3), 275; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph14030275 - 18 Mar 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1069
Abstract
Background: the proviral insertion site of Moloney murine leukemia (PIM) 1 kinase has served as a therapeutic target for various human cancers due to the enhancement of cell proliferation and the inhibition of apoptosis. Methods: to identify effective PIM1 kinase inhibitors, structure-based virtual [...] Read more.
Background: the proviral insertion site of Moloney murine leukemia (PIM) 1 kinase has served as a therapeutic target for various human cancers due to the enhancement of cell proliferation and the inhibition of apoptosis. Methods: to identify effective PIM1 kinase inhibitors, structure-based virtual screening of natural products of plant origin and de novo design were carried out using the protein–ligand binding free energy function improved by introducing an adequate dehydration energy term. Results: as a consequence of subsequent enzyme inhibition assays, four classes of PIM1 kinase inhibitors were discovered, with the biochemical potency ranging from low-micromolar to sub-micromolar levels. The results of extensive docking simulations showed that the inhibitory activity stemmed from the formation of multiple hydrogen bonds in combination with hydrophobic interactions in the ATP-binding site. Optimization of the biochemical potency by chemical modifications of the 2-benzylidenebenzofuran-3(2H)-one scaffold led to the discovery of several nanomolar inhibitors with antiproliferative activities against human breast cancer cell lines. Conclusions: these new PIM1 kinase inhibitors are anticipated to serve as a new starting point for the development of anticancer medicine. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anticancer Compounds in Medicinal Plants)
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Article
Ursolic Acid Inhibits Collective Cell Migration and Promotes JNK-Dependent Lysosomal Associated Cell Death in Glioblastoma Multiforme Cells
Pharmaceuticals 2021, 14(2), 91; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph14020091 - 26 Jan 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1460
Abstract
Ursolic acid (UA) is a bioactive compound which has demonstrated therapeutic efficacy in a variety of cancer cell lines. UA activates various signalling pathways in Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) and offers a promising starting point in drug discovery; however, understanding the relationship between cell [...] Read more.
Ursolic acid (UA) is a bioactive compound which has demonstrated therapeutic efficacy in a variety of cancer cell lines. UA activates various signalling pathways in Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) and offers a promising starting point in drug discovery; however, understanding the relationship between cell death and migration has yet to be elucidated. UA induces a dose dependent cytotoxic response demonstrated by flow cytometry and biochemical cytotoxicity assays. Inhibitor and fluorescent probe studies demonstrate that UA induces a caspase independent, JNK dependent, mechanism of cell death. Migration studies established that UA inhibits GBM collective cell migration in a time dependent manner that is independent of the JNK signalling pathway. Cytotoxicity induced by UA results in the formation of acidic vesicle organelles (AVOs), speculating the activation of autophagy. However, inhibitor and spectrophotometric analysis demonstrated that autophagy was not responsible for the formation of the AVOs. Confocal microscopy and isosurface visualisation determined co-localisation of lysosomes with the previously identified AVOs, thus providing evidence that lysosomes are likely to be playing a role in UA induced cell death. Collectively, our data identify that UA rapidly induces a lysosomal associated mechanism of cell death in addition to UA acting as an inhibitor of GBM collective cell migration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anticancer Compounds in Medicinal Plants)
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Article
Protopine/Gemcitabine Combination Induces Cytotoxic or Cytoprotective Effects in Cell Type-Specific and Dose-Dependent Manner on Human Cancer and Normal Cells
Pharmaceuticals 2021, 14(2), 90; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph14020090 - 26 Jan 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 780
Abstract
The natural alkaloid protopine (PRO) exhibits pharmacological properties including anticancer activity. We investigated the effects of PRO, alone and in combination with the chemotherapeutic gemcitabine (GEM), on human tumor cell lines and non-tumor human dermal fibroblasts (HDFs). We found that treatments with different [...] Read more.
The natural alkaloid protopine (PRO) exhibits pharmacological properties including anticancer activity. We investigated the effects of PRO, alone and in combination with the chemotherapeutic gemcitabine (GEM), on human tumor cell lines and non-tumor human dermal fibroblasts (HDFs). We found that treatments with different PRO/GEM combinations were cytotoxic or cytoprotective, depending on concentration and cell type. PRO/GEM decreased viability in pancreatic cancer MIA PaCa-2 and PANC-1 cells, while it rescued the GEM-induced viability decline in HDFs and in tumor MCF-7 cells. Moreover, PRO/GEM decreased G1, S and G2/M phases, concomitantly with an increase of subG1 phase in MIA PaCa-2 and PANC-1 cells. Differently, PRO/GEM restored the normal progression of the cell cycle, altered by GEM, and decreased cell death in HDFs. PRO alone increased mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) in MIA PaCa-2, PANC-1 cells and HDFs, while PRO/GEM increased both intracellular and mitochondrial ROS in the three cell lines. These results indicate that specific combinations of PRO/GEM may be used to induce cytotoxic effects in pancreatic tumor MIA PaCa-2 and PANC-1 cells, but have cytoprotective or no effects in HDFs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anticancer Compounds in Medicinal Plants)
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Article
Extract of Herba Anthrisci cerefolii: Chemical Profiling and Insights into Its Anti-Glioblastoma and Antimicrobial Mechanism of Actions
Pharmaceuticals 2021, 14(1), 55; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph14010055 - 12 Jan 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1187
Abstract
Anthriscus cerefolium (L.) Hoffm. is a plant traditionally used around the globe since antiquity. Although widely used in many traditional medicines in different cultures, from the scientific point of view it is poorly investigated. Glioblastoma, a tumor type with poor prognosis, is the [...] Read more.
Anthriscus cerefolium (L.) Hoffm. is a plant traditionally used around the globe since antiquity. Although widely used in many traditional medicines in different cultures, from the scientific point of view it is poorly investigated. Glioblastoma, a tumor type with poor prognosis, is the most common and lethal brain tumor in adults. Current therapeutic strategies for glioblastoma include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. On the other hand, it has been revealed that patients with cancers are highly susceptible to microbial infections due to the invasive nature of cancer treatment approaches. This study was designed to investigate the chemical profile of herba Anthriscii cerefoli methanolic extract by applying UHPLC-LTQ OrbiTrap MS4 analysis and to analyze its anti-glioblastoma and antimicrobial activities. This study revealed that methanolic extract of herba Anthrisc cerefolii contained phenolic acids and flavonoids, with 32 compounds being identified. Anti-glioblastoma activity was investigated in vitro using A172 glioblastoma cell line. The cytotoxic effects of the extract on A172 cells were compared to the same effect on primary human gingival fibroblast (HGF-1) cells. Decreased rate of proliferation and changes in cell morphology were detected upon treatment of A172 cells with the extract. The antimicrobial activity of extract was tested against Staphylococcus aureus and Candida species. The extract was active against the tested bacterium and yeasts, inhibiting free floating cells and microbial biofilms. This study is the first one to provide a detailed description of the chemical profile of A. cerefolium extract dealing with scientific insights into its anti-glioblastoma and antimicrobial activities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anticancer Compounds in Medicinal Plants)
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Article
Anticancer Effect of Citrus hystrix DC. Leaf Extract and Its Bioactive Constituents Citronellol and, Citronellal on the Triple Negative Breast Cancer MDA-MB-231 Cell Line
Pharmaceuticals 2020, 13(12), 476; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph13120476 - 18 Dec 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2109
Abstract
Triple negative breast cancer is one of the most aggressive breast cancer type with abilities of early metastasis and chemoresistance. The tropical plant Citrus hystrix DC. has been reported to promote many biological activities including anticancer. However, the effect of C. hystrix against [...] Read more.
Triple negative breast cancer is one of the most aggressive breast cancer type with abilities of early metastasis and chemoresistance. The tropical plant Citrus hystrix DC. has been reported to promote many biological activities including anticancer. However, the effect of C. hystrix against triple negative breast cancer has not yet been identified. This study aimed to evaluate the anticancer properties of C. hystrix leaf extract and its bioactive constituents citronellol and citronellal against the triple negative breast cancer MDA-MB-231 cell line. C. hystrix leaves were powdered and sequentially macerated. The in vitro anticancer effects of C. hystrix leaf extracts, and its bioactive constituents (citronellol and citronellal) were evaluated against MDA-MB-231 cell line using cytotoxic MTT assay, cell proliferation, wound scratch migration, colony formation, cell cycle, apoptosis assay, Hoechst staining, RT-qPCR, and Western blot analysis. Results showed that crude hexane extract, citronellol, and citronellal significantly reduced cell proliferation, colony formation, and cell migration by inducing cell cycle arrest, while also inducing apoptosis in MDA-MB-231 cells through inhibition of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 expression, leading to activation of the caspase-3-dependent pathway. This study is the first report to demonstrate the effect of C. hystrix, citronellol, and citronellal against triple negative breast cancer MDA-MB-231 cells. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anticancer Compounds in Medicinal Plants)
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Article
In Vitro Bioassay-Guided Identification of Anticancer Properties from Moringa oleifera Lam. Leaf against the MDA-MB-231 Cell Line
Pharmaceuticals 2020, 13(12), 464; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph13120464 - 15 Dec 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1281
Abstract
Moringa oleifera Lam. (MO) is a medicinal plant distributed across the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. MO has been used in the traditional treatment of various diseases including cancer. This study aimed to perform bioassay-guided fractionation and identification of bioactive compounds from MO [...] Read more.
Moringa oleifera Lam. (MO) is a medicinal plant distributed across the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. MO has been used in the traditional treatment of various diseases including cancer. This study aimed to perform bioassay-guided fractionation and identification of bioactive compounds from MO leaf against MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. MO leaf was sequentially extracted with hexane, ethyl acetate (EtOAc), and ethanol. The most effective extract was subjected to fractionation. MO extract and its derived fractions were continuously screened for anti-cancer activities. The strongest fraction was selected for re-fractionation and identification of bioactive compounds using LC-ESI-QTOF-MS/MS analysis. The best anticancer activities were related to the fraction no. 7-derived crude EtOAc extract. This fraction significantly reduced cell viability and clonogenic growth and increased cells apoptosis. Moreover, sub-fraction no. 7.7-derived fraction no. 7 was selected for the identification of bioactive compounds. There were 10 candidate compounds tentatively identified by LC-ESI-QTOF-MS. Three of identified compounds (7-octenoic acid, oleamide, and 1-phenyl-2-pentanol) showed anticancer activities by inducing cell cycle arrest and triggering apoptosis through suppressed Bcl-2 expression which subsequently promotes activation of caspase 3, indicators for the apoptosis pathway. This study identified 10 candidate compounds that may have potential in the field of anticancer substances. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anticancer Compounds in Medicinal Plants)
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Article
Reversal of Ovarian Cancer Cell Lines Multidrug Resistance Phenotype by the Association of Apiole with Chemotherapies
Pharmaceuticals 2020, 13(10), 327; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph13100327 - 21 Oct 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1364
Abstract
Multidrug resistance (MDR) is the main obstacle in anticancer therapy. The use of drug combinations to circumvent tumor resistance is a well-established principle in the clinic. Among the therapeutic targets, glycoprotein-P (P-gp), an energy-dependent transmembrane efflux pump responsible for modulating MDR, is highlighted. [...] Read more.
Multidrug resistance (MDR) is the main obstacle in anticancer therapy. The use of drug combinations to circumvent tumor resistance is a well-established principle in the clinic. Among the therapeutic targets, glycoprotein-P (P-gp), an energy-dependent transmembrane efflux pump responsible for modulating MDR, is highlighted. Many pharmacological studies report the ability of calcium channel blockers to reverse tumor resistance to chemotherapy drugs. Isolated for the first time from parsley, the phenylpropanoid apiole is described as a potent calcium channel inhibitor. Taking this into account, herein, the ability of apiole to potentiate the action of well-established chemotherapeutics in the clinic, as well as the compound’s relationship with the reversal of the resistance phenomenon by blocking P-gp, is reported. The association of apiole with both chemotherapeutic drugs doxorubicin and vincristine resulted in synergistic effect, in a concentration-dependent manner, as evaluated by the concentration reduction index. Molecular docking analysis demonstrated the affinity between apiole and the active site of P-gp, corroborating the inhibitory effect. Moreover, apiole demonstrated druglikeness, according to ADME analysis. In conclusion, apiole possibly blocks the active P-gp site, with strong binding energy, which, in turn, inhibits doxorubicin and vincristine efflux, increasing the antiproliferative response of these chemotherapeutic agents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anticancer Compounds in Medicinal Plants)
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Article
Terminalia bentzoë, a Mascarene Endemic Plant, Inhibits Human Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cells Growth In Vitro via G0/G1 Phase Cell Cycle Arrest
Pharmaceuticals 2020, 13(10), 303; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph13100303 - 12 Oct 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1711
Abstract
Tropical forests constitute a prolific sanctuary of unique floral diversity and potential medicinal sources, however, many of them remain unexplored. The scarcity of rigorous scientific data on the surviving Mascarene endemic taxa renders bioprospecting of this untapped resource of utmost importance. Thus, in [...] Read more.
Tropical forests constitute a prolific sanctuary of unique floral diversity and potential medicinal sources, however, many of them remain unexplored. The scarcity of rigorous scientific data on the surviving Mascarene endemic taxa renders bioprospecting of this untapped resource of utmost importance. Thus, in view of valorizing the native resource, this study has as its objective to investigate the bioactivities of endemic leaf extracts. Herein, seven Mascarene endemic plants leaves were extracted and evaluated for their in vitro antioxidant properties and antiproliferative effects on a panel of cancer cell lines, using methyl thiazolyl diphenyl-tetrazolium bromide (MTT) and clonogenic cell survival assays. Flow cytometry and comet assay were used to investigate the cell cycle and DNA damaging effects, respectively. Bioassay guided-fractionation coupled with liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (MS), gas chromatography-MS, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopic analysis were used to identify the bioactive compounds. Among the seven plants tested, Terminaliabentzoë was comparatively the most potent antioxidant extract, with significantly (p < 0.05) higher cytotoxic activities. T. bentzoë extract further selectively suppressed the growth of human hepatocellular carcinoma cells and significantly halted the cell cycle progression in the G0/G1 phase, decreased the cells’ replicative potential and induced significant DNA damage. In total, 10 phenolic compounds, including punicalagin and ellagic acid, were identified and likely contributed to the extract’s potent antioxidant and cytotoxic activities. These results established a promising basis for further in-depth investigations into the potential use of T. bentzoë as a supportive therapy in cancer management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anticancer Compounds in Medicinal Plants)
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Article
Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench: Chemical Characterization and Bioactivity of Its Extracts and Fractions
Pharmaceuticals 2020, 13(6), 125; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph13060125 - 20 Jun 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2178
Abstract
Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench is widely known for its medicinal properties, being one of the most used medicinal plants for its immunostimulant properties. Nevertheless, there is still scarce information on its cytotoxic activity. Thus, this study aims at evaluating the cytotoxicity and antimicrobial [...] Read more.
Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench is widely known for its medicinal properties, being one of the most used medicinal plants for its immunostimulant properties. Nevertheless, there is still scarce information on its cytotoxic activity. Thus, this study aims at evaluating the cytotoxicity and antimicrobial activity of several aqueous and organic extracts of the aerial parts of this plant and chemically characterizing the obtained extracts. The analysis was performed by HPLC–DAD–ESI/MS. Fifteen compounds were identified; of these, seven were phenolic acids and eight were flavonoids. Non-polar compounds were evaluated by GC/MS, with a total of sixty-four compounds identified, and the most abundant groups were the sterols, fatty acids and long-chain hydrocarbons. The highest antimicrobial activity was exhibited by the dichloromethane, ethyl acetate, and acetone extracts. Dichloromethane and n-hexane extracts showed the highest cytotoxic activity. Therefore, they were fractionated, and the obtained fractions were also assessed for their cytotoxicity. Notwithstanding, the cytotoxicity of the extracts was superior to that of the obtained fractions, evidencing a possible synergistic effect of different compounds in the whole extracts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anticancer Compounds in Medicinal Plants)
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Review

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Review
Status and Challenges of Plant-Anticancer Compounds in Cancer Treatment
Pharmaceuticals 2021, 14(2), 157; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph14020157 - 14 Feb 2021
Cited by 27 | Viewed by 3021
Abstract
Nowadays, cancer is one of the deadliest diseases in the world, which has been estimated to cause 9.9 million deaths in 2020. Conventional treatments for cancer commonly involve mono-chemotherapy or a combination of radiotherapy and mono-chemotherapy. However, the negative side effects of these [...] Read more.
Nowadays, cancer is one of the deadliest diseases in the world, which has been estimated to cause 9.9 million deaths in 2020. Conventional treatments for cancer commonly involve mono-chemotherapy or a combination of radiotherapy and mono-chemotherapy. However, the negative side effects of these approaches have been extensively reported and have prompted the search of new therapeutic drugs. In this context, scientific community started to look for innovative sources of anticancer compounds in natural sources, including traditional plants. Currently, numerous studies have evaluated the anticancer properties of natural compounds derived from plants, both in vitro and in vivo. In pre-clinical stages, some promising compounds could be mentioned, such as the sulforaphane or different phenolic compounds. On the other hand, some phytochemicals obtained positive results in clinical stages and were further approved for cancer treatment, such as vinca alkaloids or the paclitaxel. Nevertheless, these compounds are not exempt of limitations, such as low solubility, restricted effect on their own, negative side-effects, etc. This review aims to compile the information about the current phytochemicals used for cancer treatment and also promising candidates, main action mechanisms and also reported limitations. In this sense, some strategies to face the limitations have been considered, such as nano-based formulations to improve solubility or chemical modification to reduce toxicity. In conclusion, although more research is still necessary to develop more efficient and safe phytochemical drugs, more of these compounds might be used in future cancer therapies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anticancer Compounds in Medicinal Plants)
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Other

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Opinion
The Mediterranean Diet as a Source of Natural Compounds: Does It Represent a Protective Choice against Cancer?
Pharmaceuticals 2021, 14(9), 920; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph14090920 - 11 Sep 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1085
Abstract
The Mediterranean diet (MD), characterized by a high intake of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and grains, a moderate intake of red wine and a reduced consumption of meat, has been considered one of the healthiest dietary patterns worldwide. Growing evidence suggests an inverse [...] Read more.
The Mediterranean diet (MD), characterized by a high intake of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and grains, a moderate intake of red wine and a reduced consumption of meat, has been considered one of the healthiest dietary patterns worldwide. Growing evidence suggests an inverse relationship between high adherence to the MD and cancer, as well as other chronic degenerative diseases. The beneficial effects elicited by the MD pattern on cancer are due to the high contents of bioactive compounds contained in many foods of MD, which protect cells by oxidative and inflammatory processes and inhibit carcinogenesis by targeting the various hallmarks of cancer with different mechanisms of action. Although over the past decades numerous dietary and phytochemical compounds from Mediterranean food that have anticancer potential have been identified, a clear association between the MD eating pattern and cancer needs to be established. While we wait for answers to this question from well-conducted research, the empowering of the MD as a protective choice against cancer should represent the priority for public health policies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anticancer Compounds in Medicinal Plants)
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