Article

Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Withania somnifera (ashwagandha): a review.

Los Angeles College of Chiropractic (LACC), 16200 E Amber Valley Dr., Whittier, CA 90609-1166.
Alternative medicine review: a journal of clinical therapeutic (Impact Factor: 4.86). 09/2000; 5(4):334-46.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The objective of this paper is to review the literature regarding Withania somnifera (ashwagandha, WS) a commonly used herb in Ayurvedic medicine. Specifically, the literature was reviewed for articles pertaining to chemical properties, therapeutic benefits, and toxicity.
This review is in a narrative format and consists of all publications relevant to ashwagandha that were identified by the authors through a systematic search of major computerized medical databases; no statistical pooling of results or evaluation of the quality of the studies was performed due to the widely different methods employed by each study.
Studies indicate ashwagandha possesses anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antistress, antioxidant, immunomodulatory, hemopoietic, and rejuvenating properties. It also appears to exert a positive influence on the endocrine, cardiopulmonary, and central nervous systems. The mechanisms of action for these properties are not fully understood. Toxicity studies reveal that ashwagandha appears to be a safe compound.
Preliminary studies have found various constituents of ashwagandha exhibit a variety of therapeutic effects with little or no associated toxicity. These results are very encouraging and indicate this herb should be studied more extensively to confirm these results and reveal other potential therapeutic effects. Clinical trials using ashwagandha for a variety of conditions should also be conducted.

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    ABSTRACT: Withaferin A (WA) isolated from Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) has recently become an attractive phytochemical under investigation in various preclinical studies for treatment of different cancer types. In the present study, a comparative pathway-based transcriptome analysis was applied in epithelial-like MCF-7 and triple negative mesenchymal MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells exposed to different concentrations of WA which can be detected systemically in in vivo experiments. Whereas WA treatment demonstrated attenuation of multiple cancer hallmarks, the withanolide analogue Withanone (WN) did not exert any of the described effects at comparable concentrations. Pathway enrichment analysis revealed that WA targets specific cancer processes related to cell death, cell cycle and proliferation, which could be functionally validated by flow cytometry and real-time cell proliferation assays. WA also strongly decreased MDA-MB-231 invasion as determined by single-cell collagen invasion assay. This was further supported by decreased gene expression of extracellular matrix-degrading proteases (uPA, PLAT, ADAM8), cell adhesion molecules (integrins, laminins), pro-inflammatory mediators of the metastasis-promoting tumor microenvironment (TNFSF12, IL6, ANGPTL2, CSF1R) and concomitant increased expression of the validated breast cancer metastasis suppressor gene (BRMS1). In line with the transcriptional changes, nanomolar concentrations of WA significantly decreased protein levels and corresponding activity of uPA in MDA-MB-231 cell supernatant, further supporting its anti-metastatic properties. Finally, hierarchical clustering analysis of 84 chromatin writer-reader-eraser enzymes revealed that WA treatment of invasive mesenchymal MDA-MB-231 cells reprogrammed their transcription levels more similarly towards the pattern observed in non-invasive MCF-7 cells. In conclusion, taking into account that sub-cytotoxic concentrations of WA target multiple metastatic effectors in therapy-resistant triple negative breast cancer, WA-based therapeutic strategies targeting the uPA pathway hold promise for further (pre)clinical development to defeat aggressive metastatic breast cancer.
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May 20, 2014