Saponins as anticancer agents: Delving into their mechanisms of action

Olisaemeka Zikora Akunne

Abstract


Background: Cancer is a complex global disease driven by various biological processes that promote excessive
cell growth, evade growth-inhibiting factors, facilitate replication, evade cell death, stimulate blood vessel
formation, and initiate invasion and metastasis. The burden of cancer is increasing rapidly, with breast and
prostate cancers being prevalent. Early detection and intervention are crucial to reducing morbidity and mortality
rates. Natural products, especially saponins derived from medicinal plants, have gained attention due to their
potential in cancer treatment, offering low toxicity and high efficacy. Purpose: This article aims to compile
and analyze data on specific saponins derived from plants, elucidating their mechanisms of action in exerting
anticancer effects. Study Design: This study involves a comprehensive review of existing literature on the
anticancer properties of saponins. Various classes of saponins, including cycloartanes, dammaranes, oleananes,
spirostanes, furostanes, and alkaloidal saponins, are explored for their potential to combat cancer. Methods: The
study involves a literature review of scientific articles, studies, and research papers published on the anticancer
properties of saponins. Mechanisms of action, effects on cell proliferation, apoptosis induction, cell cycle arrest,
and modulation of signaling pathways are assessed for each saponin class. Results: Saponins exhibit diverse
pharmacological functions, including anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, antimicrobial, antioxidant,
and antitumor effects. Different classes of saponins demonstrate efficacy against various cancer types through
mechanisms such as apoptosis induction, cell cycle arrest, and inhibition of angiogenesis. Specific saponins such
as ginsenosides, tubeimosides, saikosaponins, and solanine have shown promising results in inhibiting cancer cell
growth and promoting apoptosis through intricate cellular pathways. Conclusion: Saponins derived from plants
hold significant promise as potential therapeutic agents against cancer due to their multifaceted pharmacological
properties. The diverse mechanisms of action exhibited by various saponin classes make them valuable candidates
for further research and drug development. Harnessing the potential of saponins may pave the way for innovative
and targeted anticancer treatments, offering hope in the fight against this global health challenge.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22377/ijgp.v17i04.3505

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