Although the incidences are increasing day after day, scientists and researchers taken individually or by research group are trying to fight against cancer by several ways and also by different approaches and techniques. Sesquiterpenes, flavonoids, alkaloids, diterpenoids, and polyphenolic represent a large and diverse group of naturally occurring compounds found in a variety of fruits, vegetables, and medicinal plants with various anticancer properties. In this review, our aim is to give our perspective on the current status of the natural compounds belonging to these groups and discuss their natural sources, their anticancer activity, their molecular targets, and their mechanism of actions with specific emphasis on apoptosis pathways, which may help the further design and conduct of preclinical and clinical trials. Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, the selected natural compounds induce apoptosis by targeting multiple cellular signaling pathways including transcription factors, growth factors, tumor cell survival factors, inflammatory cytokines, protein kinases, and angiogenesis that are frequently deregulated in cancers and suggest that their simultaneous targeting by these compounds could result in efficacious and selective killing of cancer cells. This review suggests that they provide a novel opportunity for treatment of cancer, but clinical trials are still required to further validate them in cancer chemotherapy. Cancer Prev Res; 1–27. ©2014 AACR.
- Received April 24, 2014.
- Revision received July 23, 2014.
- Accepted August 6, 2014.
- ©2014 American Association for Cancer Research.