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Ginekologia i Poloznictwo
ISSN 1896-3315 e-ISSN 1898-0759

Plant-derived cytostatic drugs


Author(s): Anna Antosz-Gruszkoś

Neoplastic diseases represent the leading causes of mortality in developed countries. A number of pharmacological methods are used to treat neoplasms, and chemotherapy is the most commonly applied method of systemic therapy. Plantderived cytostatic drugs used to treat neoplastic diseases include: cytotoxic antibiotics, podophyllotoxin derivatives, antimicrotubule agents, camptothecin derivatives and enzymes. Anthracyclines: doxorubicin or mitoxantrone, and other antibiotics, such as bleomycin, dactinomycin and mitomycin, are of great importance among plant-derived antibiotics. The above mentioned drugs are mainly used against hematologic malignancies and solid tumors. The examples of plant-derived compounds whose derivatives are administered to treat some of the neoplasms are podophyllotoxin derived from Podophyllum pelatum and Podophyllum emodi as well as camptothecin isolated from Camptotheca acuminata. Inhibition of malignant growth by disturbing the activity of the mitotic spindle, or more precisely by halting an incorrect process of mitosis, applies to Vinca alkaloids, taxanes and epothilones. Interactions with microtubules of the spindle apparatus are most commonly used to treat such neoplasms as ovarian cancer, breast cancer and Hodgkin lymphoma. Asparaginase is an essential and fundamental enzyme used in chemotherapy of acute lymphoblastic leukemia and also of other malignancies, such as non-Hodgkin lymphomas. The application of cytostatic agents is exceedingly limited because of their frequent toxicity for healthy cells. Nevertheless, the above mentioned plant-derived compounds are successfully used in treatment of many malignancies. Furthermore, comprehensive clinical trials on cytostatic drugs contribute to the improvement of their characteristics, antineoplastic potential and safety of chemotherapy.