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      Triterpenes as Potentially Cytotoxic Compounds

      review-article
      1 , 2 , 1 , *
      Molecules
      MDPI
      triterpenes, cytotoxicity

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          Abstract

          Triterpenes are compounds of natural origin, which have numerously biological activities: anti-cancer properties, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. These substances can be isolated from plants, animals or fungi. Nowadays, when neoplasms are main cause of death, triterpenes can become an alternative method for treating cancer because of their cytotoxic properties and chemopreventive activities.

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          Most cited references94

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          Selective cytotoxicity of betulinic acid on tumor cell lines, but not on normal cells.

          Betulinic acid is a triterpene with selective cytotoxicity against melanoma, neuroectodermal and malignant brain tumor cell lines. In this study the betulinic acid activity was evaluated, in comparison with doxorubicin, on different human neoplastic and non-neoplastic cell lines and on proliferating normal lymphocytes. Growth inhibition was evident in all the neoplastic cell lines independently on p53 status and histotype. Antiproliferative activity of betulinic acid was related to a cytotoxic effect on two p53 wild-type and on one p53 mutant cell lines and to a cytostatic effect on one p53 mutant melanoma clone. At the same concentrations, normal cells were unaffected indicating a selective effect of this agent. A cytotoxic activity of doxorubicin was evident on all the tested systems. In vivo experiments, performed on one of these cell lines, confirmed the antineoplastic activity of this drug. These data support further preclinical studies of betulinic acid not confined to melanoma and neuroectodermal tumors independently of p53 status.
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            Limonoids: overview of significant bioactive triterpenes distributed in plants kingdom.

            The search for limonoids started long back when scientists started looking for the factor responsible for bitterness in citrus which has negative impact on citrus fruit and juice industry worldwide. The term limonoids was derived from limonin, the first tetranortriterpenoid obtained from citrus bitter principles. Compounds belonging to this group have exhibited a range of biological activities like insecticidal, insect antifeedant and growth regulating activity on insects as well as antibacterial, antifungal, antimalarial, anticancer, antiviral and a number of other pharmacological activities on humans. Although hundreds of limonoids have been isolated from various plants but, their occurrence in the plant kingdom is confined to only plant families of order Rutales and that too more abundantly in Meliaceae and Rutaceae, and less frequently in Cneoraceae and Harrisonia sp. of Simaroubaceae. Limonoids are highly oxygenated, modified terpenoids with a prototypical structure either containing or derived from a precursor with a 4,4,8-trimethyl-17-furanylsteroid skeleton. All naturally occurring citrus limonoids contain a furan ring attached to the D-ring, at C-17, as well as oxygen containing functional groups at C-3, C-4, C-7, C-16 and C-17. The structural variations of limonoids found in Rutaceae are less than in Meliaceae and are generally limited to the modification of A and B rings, the limonoids of Meliaceae are more complex with very high degree of oxidation and rearrangement exhibited in the parent limonoid structure. To counter the problem of bitterness in citrus juice and products genetic engineering of citrus to maximize the formation of limonoid glucosides for reducing limonoid bitterness is the focus of recent and future research. Regarding the biological activities of limonoids the investigations are to be directed towards detailed characterization, quantification, and designing a simple as well as versatile synthetic route of apparently important limonoids. Extraction methods too should be optimized; evaluation and establishment of pharmaco-dynamic and kinetic principles, and structure activity relationships should be a key goal associated with limonoids so that they can be safely introduced in our arsenal of pharmaceuticals to safeguard the humanity from the wrath of disease and its discomfort.
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              Celastrol targets mitochondrial respiratory chain complex I to induce reactive oxygen species-dependent cytotoxicity in tumor cells

              Background Celastrol is an active ingredient of the traditional Chinese medicinal plant Tripterygium Wilfordii, which exhibits significant antitumor activity in different cancer models in vitro and in vivo; however, the lack of information on the target and mechanism of action of this compound have impeded its clinical application. In this study, we sought to determine the mode of action of celastrol by focusing on the processes that mediate its anticancer activity. Methods The downregulation of heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) client proteins, phosphorylation of c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK), and cleavage of PARP, caspase 9 and caspase 3 were detected by western blotting. The accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) was analyzed by flow cytometry and fluorescence microscopy. Cell cycle progression, mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) and apoptosis were determined by flow cytometry. Absorption spectroscopy was used to determine the activity of mitochondrial respiratory chain (MRC) complexes. Results Celastrol induced ROS accumulation, G2-M phase blockage, apoptosis and necrosis in H1299 and HepG2 cells in a dose-dependent manner. N-acetylcysteine (NAC), an antioxidative agent, inhibited celastrol-induced ROS accumulation and cytotoxicity. JNK phosphorylation induced by celastrol was suppressed by NAC and JNK inhibitor SP600125 (SP). Moreover, SP significantly inhibited celastrol-induced loss of MMP, cleavage of PARP, caspase 9 and caspase 3, mitochondrial translocation of Bad, cytoplasmic release of cytochrome c, and cell death. However, SP did not inhibit celastrol-induced ROS accumulation. Celastrol downregulated HSP90 client proteins but did not disrupt the interaction between HSP90 and cdc37. NAC completely inhibited celastrol-induced decrease of HSP90 client proteins, catalase and thioredoxin. The activity of MRC complex I was completely inhibited in H1299 cells treated with 6 μM celastrol in the absence and presence of NAC. Moreover, the inhibition of MRC complex I activity preceded ROS accumulation in H1299 cells after celastrol treatment. Conclusion We identified ROS as the key intermediate for celastrol-induced cytotoxicity. JNK was activated by celastrol-induced ROS accumulation and then initiated mitochondrial-mediated apoptosis. Celastrol induced the downregulation of HSP90 client proteins through ROS accumulation and facilitated ROS accumulation by inhibiting MRC complex I activity. These results identify a novel target for celastrol-induced anticancer activity and define its mode of action.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Academic Editor
                Journal
                Molecules
                Molecules
                molecules
                Molecules
                MDPI
                1420-3049
                19 January 2015
                January 2015
                : 20
                : 1
                : 1610-1625
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Chair and Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Medical University of Silesia in Katowice, Jordana 19, Zabrze 41-808, Poland; E-Mail: malwina.m.jarosz@ 123456gmail.com
                [2 ]Department of Nutrition-Associated Disease Prevention, Faculty of Public Health, Medical University of Silesia in Katowice, Piekarska 18, Bytom 41-902, Poland; E-Mail: ikorzonek@ 123456sum.edu.pl
                Author notes
                [†]

                These authors contributed equally to this work.

                [* ]Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mail: wkrol@ 123456sum.edu.pl ; Tel./Fax: +48-032-2722-554.
                Article
                molecules-20-01610
                10.3390/molecules20011610
                6272502
                25608043
                125004d0-8c2a-4169-a33f-3270f58b4c3e
                © 2015 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

                History
                : 30 October 2014
                : 13 January 2015
                Categories
                Review

                triterpenes,cytotoxicity
                triterpenes, cytotoxicity

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