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Cytotechnology. Oct 2000; 34(1-2): 17–26.
PMCID: PMC3449733

Production of podophyllotoxin from Podophyllum hexandrum: a potential natural product for clinically useful anticancer drugs


Podophyllum hexandrum Royle of family Berberidaceae is an endangered medicinal plant. Rhizome ofP.hexandrum contains several lignans which posses antitumor activity. Podphyllotoxin is the most active cytotoxic natural product. It is used as starting compound for the synthesis of anticancer drug etoposide and teniposide. Podophyllotoxin acts as an inhibitor of microtubule assembly. These drugs are used for lung cancer, testicular cancer, neuroblastoma, hepatoma and other tumors. Besides this, it also shows antiviral activities by interfering with some critical viral processes. Availabilityof podophyllotoxin from plants has its limitations because of its intense collection from nature and lack of organized cultivation. The chemical synthesis of podophyllotoxin is considered to be very complicated as yet. The use of biotechnological approaches for the production of podophyllotoxin using cell cultures, organ cultures, and biotransformation route or by manipulating biosynthetic pathway proves to be an attractive alternative for production of podophyllotoxin. The present paper discusses the current status of research, limitations and future prospects for theproduction of podophyllotoxinin vitro.

Keywords: etoposide, metabolic engineering, Podophyllotoxin, Podophyllum hexandrum, teniposide, tissue culture

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