Usnic acid derivatives as cytotoxic agents against cancer cells and the mechanisms of their activity

Beata Guzow-Krzemińska , Katarzyna Guzow , Anna Herman-Antosiewicz


Purpose of Review: This article summarises recent research on modifications of the structure or formula of usnic acid (UA), a lichen secondary metabolite, in order to obtain derivatives with higher bioavailability, potency and selectivity against cancer cells and presents the current knowledge on the mechanisms of action of such compounds. Recent Findings: Numerous approaches have been undertaken to improve bioactivity of UA concerning its use as an anticancer drug. Among them, the synthesis of UA salts or complexation with 2-hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin to improve its solubility and the encapsulation using different carriers (including various nanomaterials) to stabilise UA in biological fluids and improve their penetrance to, and release in, cancer cells were applied.. Synthetic modification of the UA structure has been explored to obtain more active and cancer-specific derivatives. Recent work indicates that some modifications of the C or A ring of UA selectively increase its antiproliferative potential against cancer cells. Moreover, specific changes in the UA structure allow to obtain derivatives which inhibit enzymes important for the cancer cells’ survival, such as mTOR, Pim, TDP1 or PARP. Some of them have been shown to enhance anticancer activity of the already approved chemotherapeutics, such as topotecan. Others, when used in an animal cancer xenograft model, were superior to UA in retardation of tumour growth and less toxic that the parent compound. Summary: UA is a promising lead compound for synthesis of anticancer drugs. Further work on its modifications, mechanisms of activity and validation in animal models is critical for development of effective therapeutics.
Author Beata Guzow-Krzemińska (FB/DPTNC)
Beata Guzow-Krzemińska,,
- Department of Plant Taxonomy and Nature Conservation
, Katarzyna Guzow (FCh/DBCh/LP)
Katarzyna Guzow,,
- Laboratory of Photobiophysics
, Anna Herman-Antosiewicz (FB/DMBG)
Anna Herman-Antosiewicz,,
- Katedra Biologii i Genetyki Medycznej
Journal seriesCurrent Pharmacology Reports, ISSN , e-ISSN 2198-641X, (N/A 70 pkt)
Issue year2019
Publication size in sheets0.50
ASJC Classification1303 Biochemistry; 1311 Genetics; 3002 Drug Discovery; 3004 Pharmacology
Languageen angielski
LicenseOther; published final; Uznanie Autorstwa (CC-BY); with publication
Score (nominal)70
Score sourcejournalList
ScoreMinisterial score = 70.0, 28-01-2020, ArticleFromJournal
Publication indicators Scopus SNIP (Source Normalised Impact per Paper): 2018 = 0.713
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