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Drug repositioning is one of the leading strategies in modern therapeutic research. Instead of searching for completely novel substances and demanding studies of their biological effects, much attention has been paid to the evaluation of commonly used drugs, which could be utilized for more distinct indications than they have been approved for. Since treatment approaches for cancer, one of the most extensively studied diseases, have still been very limited, great effort has been made to find or repurpose novel anticancer therapeutics. One of these are cardiac glycosides, substances commonly used to treat congestive heart failure or various arrhythmias. Recently, the antitumor properties of cardiac glycosides have been discovered and, therefore, these compounds are being considered for anticancer therapy. Their mechanism of antitumor action seems to be rather complex and not fully uncovered yet, however, autophagy has been confirmed to play a key role in this process. In this review article, we report on the up-to-date knowledge of the anticancer activity of cardiac glycosides with special attention paid to autophagy induction, the molecular mechanisms of this process, and the potential employment of this phenomenon in clinical practice.


Jan Škubník, Vladimíra Svobodová Pavlíčková, Jana Psotová, Silvie Rimpelová. Cardiac Glycosides as Autophagy Modulators. Cells. 2021 Nov 28;10(12)

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PMID: 34943848

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