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Furanocoumarins are a class of natural compounds produced by several plants, including those consumed by humans. They have been used medicinally in eastern countries for ages. Given the growing body of evidence about their anticancer potential and observations that naturally occurring compounds potentiate the antitumor activity of chemotherapeutics, more attention is paid to elucidation of the nature of furanocoumarins and the possibility of using thereof in practice. The general mechanism by which furanocoumarins eliminate cancer cells is based on cell cycle blockage and initiation of programmed death like apoptosis or autophagy. The precise molecular mechanism of such an action depends on the chemical structure of furanocoumarins, which is based on the furan ring attached to the coumarin backbone in a linear or angular form as well as the type, location, and number of the substituents attached. The review summarizes the current evidence of the antitumor properties of linear and angular furanocoumarins with special emphasis on the molecular mechanism of elimination of cancer cells via apoptosis and autophagy. Negative aspects of the use of coumarins in anticancer therapy will be also discussed especially in the context of their phototoxicity and potential cancerogenic effect. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Joanna Sumorek-Wiadro, Adrian Zając, Aleksandra Maciejczyk, Joanna Jakubowicz-Gil. Furanocoumarins in anticancer therapy - For and against. Fitoterapia. 2020 Apr;142:104492

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PMID: 32032635

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