Mechanistic pathways and molecular targets of plant-derived anticancer ent-kaurane diterpenes

Md. Shahid Sarwar, Yi Xuan Xia, Zheng Ming Liang, Siu Wai Tsang, Hong Jie Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Since the first discovery in 1961, more than 1300 ent-kaurane diterpenoids have been isolated and identified from different plant sources, mainly the genus Isodon. Chemically, they consist of a perhydrophenanthrene subunit and a cyclopentane ring. A large number of reports describe the anticancer potential and mechanism of action of ent-kaurane compounds in a series of cancer cell lines. Oridonin is one of the prime anticancer ent-kaurane diterpenoids that is currently in a phase-I clinical trial in China. In this review, we have extensively summarized the anticancer activities of ent-kaurane diterpenoids according to their plant sources, mechanistic pathways, and biological targets. Literature analysis found that anticancer effect of ent-kauranes are mainly mediated through regulation of apoptosis, cell cycle arrest, autophagy, and metastasis. Induction of apoptosis is associated with modulation of BCL-2, BAX, PARP, cytochrome c, and cleaved caspase-3, -8, and -9, while cell cycle arrest is controlled by cyclin D1, c-Myc, p21, p53, and CDK-2 and -4. The most common metastatic target proteins of ent-kauranes are MMP-2, MMP-9, VEGF, and VEGFR whereas LC-II and mTOR are key regulators to induce autophagy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number144
Number of pages17
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology

User-Defined Keywords

  • Cancer
  • Ent-kaurane diterpenoids
  • Isodon genus
  • Natural compounds
  • Pathways


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