Chinese herbal medicine-derived compounds for cancer therapy: A focus on hepatocellular carcinoma

State Key Laboratory of Quality Research in Chinese Medicine, Institute of Chinese Medical Sciences, University of Macau, Macau, 999078, China.
Journal of ethnopharmacology (Impact Factor: 2.94). 07/2013; 149(3). DOI: 10.1016/j.jep.2013.07.030
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) as the major histological subtype of primary liver cancer remains one of the most common malignancies worldwide. Due to quite complicated the molecular pathogenesis of HCC, the option for effective systemic treatment is quite limited. There exists a critical need to explore and evaluate possible alternative strategies for effective control of HCC. With a long history of clinical use, Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) is emerging as a noticeable choice for its multi-level, multi-target and coordinated intervention effects against HCC. With the aids of phytochemistry and molecular biological approaches, in the past decades many CHM-derived compounds have been carefully studied through both preclinical and clinical researches and have shown great potential in novel anti-HCC natural product development. The present review aimed at providing the most recent developments on CHM-derived anti-HCC compounds, especially their underlying pharmacological mechanisms.
A systematic search of CHM-derived anti-HCC compounds was carried out focusing on literatures published both in English (PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science and Medline) and in Chinese academic database (Wanfang and CNKI database).
In this review, we tried to give a timely and comprehensive update about the anti-HCC effects and targets of several representative CHM-derived compounds, namely curcumin, resveratrol, silibinin, berberine, quercetin, tanshinone II-A and celastrol. Their mechanisms of anti-HCC behaviors, potential side effects or toxicity and future research directions were discussed.
Herbal compounds derived from CHM are of much significance in devising new drugs and providing unique ideas for the war against HCC. We propose that these breakthrough findings may have important implications for targeted-HCC therapy and modernization of CHM.

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