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Cancer Lett. 2013 May 28;332(2):304-12. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2010.07.015. Epub 2010 Aug 3.

Targeting apoptosis pathways in cancer by Chinese medicine.

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Tumor Immunology Program (D030), German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.


The traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) uses a combination of different natural products based on practical experiences. To better understand the therapeutic functions of TCM, large efforts have been made to identify the principle constituents of TCM and to unravel the molecular mechanisms behind the efficacy observed. This review aims to summarize research results obtained from the most intensively studied TCM phytochemical compounds namely the alkaloids Berberine, Evodiamine; anthraquinones Emodin, Aloe-emodin, Rhein; the terpenoids Artemisinin, Celastrol, Triptolide; the flavones Apigenin, Chrysin, Wogonin, Baicalein; and the cyclopenta[b]benzofuran derivatives Rocaglamide. Most of them have been originally identified as anti-inflammatory and anti-viral reagents and are now known to also possess anti-tumor activities by targeting the apoptosis pathways in cancer. This review also intends to give an overview of the mechanisms of action identified so far. These breakthrough findings may have important implications for targeted-cancer therapy and for modernization of TCM.

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