Affiliation: Drug and Herbal Research Center, Faculty of Pharmacy, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Jalan Raja Muda Abdul Aziz, 50300 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The evaluation of crude drugs of natural origin as sources of new effective anticancer agents continues to be important due to the lack of effective anticancer drugs currently used in practice which are generally accompanied with adverse effects at different levels of severity. The aim of this concise review is to gather existing literature on anticancer potential of extracts and compounds isolated from Celastraceae species. This review covers six genera (Maytenus, Tripterygium, Hippocratea, Gymnosporia, Celastrus and Austroplenckia) belonging to this family and their 33 isolates. Studies carried out by using different cell lines have shown remarkable indication of anticancer activity, however, only a restricted number of studies have been reported using in vivo tumor models. Some of the compounds, such as triptolide, celastrol and demethylzeylasteral from T. wilfordii, have been extensively studied on their mechanisms of action due to their potent activity on various cancer cell lines. Such promising lead compounds should generate considerable interest among scientists to improve their therapeutic potential with fewer side effects by molecular modification.