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Chinese herbal medicine-derived compounds for cancer therapy: A focus on hepatocellular carcinoma
Hu YY1; Wang SP1; Wu X2; Zhang JM1; Chen R1; Chen MW1; Wang YT1
Source PublicationJournal of Ethnopharmacology


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) as the major histological subtype of primary liver cancer remains one of the most common malignancies worldwide. Due to the complicated molecular pathogenesis of HCC, the option for effective systemic treatment is quite limited. There exists a critical need to explore and evaluate possible alternative strategies for effective control of HCC. With a long history of clinical use, Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) is emerging as a noticeable choice for its multi-level, multi-target and coordinated intervention effects against HCC. With the aids of phytochemistry and molecular biological approaches, in the past decades many CHM-derived compounds have been carefully studied through both preclinical and clinical researches and have shown great potential in novel anti-HCC natural product development. The present review aimed at providing the most recent developments on anti-HCC compounds derived from CHM, especially their underlying pharmacological mechanisms.


A systematic search of anti-HCC compounds from CHM was carried out focusing on literatures published both in English (PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science and Medline) and in Chinese academic databases (Wanfang and CNKI database).


In this review, we tried to give a timely and comprehensive update about the anti-HCC effects and targets of several representative CHM-derived compounds, namely curcumin, resveratrol, silibinin, berberine, quercetin, tanshinone II-A and celastrol. Their mechanisms of anti-HCC behaviors, potential side effects or toxicity and future research directions were discussed.


Herbal compounds derived from CHM are of much significance in devising new drugs and providing unique ideas for the war against HCC. We propose that these breakthrough findings may have important implications for targeted-HCC therapy and modernization of CHM.

KeywordChinese Herbal Medicine Cancer Therapy Hepatocellular Carcinoma Curcumin
Indexed BySCI
WOS Research AreaPlant Sciences ; Pharmacology & Pharmacy ; Integrative & Complementary Medicine
WOS SubjectPlant Sciences ; Chemistry, Medicinal ; Integrative & Complementary Medicine ; Pharmacology & Pharmacy
WOS IDWOS:000326215100001
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Cited Times [WOS]:93   [WOS Record]     [Related Records in WOS]
Document TypeJournal article
CollectionInstitute of Chinese Medical Sciences
Affiliation1.State Key Laboratory of Quality Research in Chinese Medicine, Institute of Chinese Medical Sciences, University of Macau, Macau 999078, China
2.Institute of Chinese Materia Medica, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Beijing 100700, China
First Author AffilicationInstitute of Chinese Medical Sciences
Recommended Citation
GB/T 7714
Hu YY,Wang SP,Wu X,et al. Chinese herbal medicine-derived compounds for cancer therapy: A focus on hepatocellular carcinoma[J]. Journal of Ethnopharmacology,2013,149(3):601-612.
APA Hu YY.,Wang SP.,Wu X.,Zhang JM.,Chen R.,...&Wang YT.(2013).Chinese herbal medicine-derived compounds for cancer therapy: A focus on hepatocellular carcinoma.Journal of Ethnopharmacology,149(3),601-612.
MLA Hu YY,et al."Chinese herbal medicine-derived compounds for cancer therapy: A focus on hepatocellular carcinoma".Journal of Ethnopharmacology 149.3(2013):601-612.
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