Affiliation: College of Pharmacy and Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Pharmacology and Safety Evaluation of Chinese Materia Medica, Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, Nanjing 210046, China.
Cryptotanshinone is one of the major tanshinones isolated from the roots of the plant Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge (Danshen). Danshen has been widely used in traditional Chinese medicine for treatment of a variety of diseases, including coronary artery disease, acute ischemic stroke, hyperlipidemia, chronic renal failure, chronic hepatitis, and Alzheimer's disease, showing no serious adverse effects. Recent studies have shown that cryptotanshinone not only possesses the potential for treatment and prevention of the above-mentioned diseases, but also is a potent anticancer agent. Here we briefly summarize the physical and chemical properties and the pharmacokinetic profiles of cryptotanshinone, and then comprehensively review its anticancer activities as well as the underlying mechanisms.