Table 2 : Phytochemicals from medicinal plants, their sources and anticancer functions against cancers.

S. No. Naturally occurring
Source Plant Preventive /protective functions Organ References

1 Apigenin Moringa peregrina
Celery, Chamomile Parsley
Induced apoptosis through different signalling pathways i.e. leptin/leptin receptor pathway or by activating p38 MAPK pathway Breast cancer cell lines, colon cancer
cell line, lung adenocarcinoma cell line
and B16 cells.

2 Berbamine Berberine amarensis Apoptosis dependent on Caspase-3 NA [18-20]
3 Beta lapachone Tabebula avellanedae Topoisomerase I and topoisomerase II inhibition NA [21-24]
4 Betulinic acid Betula alba Through mitochondrial apoptotic pathway NA [25-28]
5 Colchicine Colchicum
Anti-mitotic NA [29,30]

6 Curcumin
Curcuma longa Induce apoptosis in cancer cells without cytotoxic effects
on healthy cells.
modulates growth of tumor cells through regulation of
multiple cell signaling pathways, down regulation of
COX-2 and MMP-2 expression, suppression of gene expression of EGFR, increases AP-1-luciferase activity,
inhibits NF-κB stimulator lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced inflammation, reduced LPS-induced IκB phosphorylation
Colon cancer, breast cancer, lung metastases, and brain tumor,
human prostate cancer PC-3 cells

7 Crocetin Crocus sativus (Saffron) Exact mechanism of action is still not clear but it may be
due to the inhibition of nucleic acid synthesis, enhancing
anti-oxidative system, inducing apoptosis and hindering
growth factor signaling pathways.
Hepatocellular carcinoma, human lung cancer, pancreatic cancer cell line, skin carcinoma, colorectal cancer cells, and breast cancer.  [38-45]

8 Cyanidin Berries, plums, red cabbage and red onion. Inhibiting cell proliferation, Inhibiting iNOS and COX-2
gene expression, blocks activation of ErbB2/cSrc/FAK pathway, induce the activation of AP-1 and NF-κB,
blocked the activation of the Fyn kinase signaling pathway
Colon cancer cells,
breast cancer cells,
Oesophagus cell line,
tumorigenic rat
esophagus cell line,
epidermal skin cell line

9 Daphnoretin Wikstroemia indica Suppressed protein and DNA synthesis NA [51]

10 3,3’-Diindolyl
methane (DIM) +
Brassica sps. vegetables
(broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens)
DIM Modulated the receptor tyrosine kinase/PI3K/Akt signaling pathway via aryl hydrocarbon (Ah) receptor,
NF-κB/Wnt/Akt/mTOR pathways, cell cycle arrest,
modulated key CYP enzymes, altering angiogenesis,
invasion, metastasis and epigenetic behaviour of
cancer cells.
Lung, prostate, and breast  cancer [52-58]

11 Ellipticine Ochrosia borbonica Inhibition of DNA topoisomerase II NA [59]

12 Epigallocatechin
gallate (EGCG)
Green tea Inhibits anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-xl, interfered with
EGFR signaling, inhibited hepatocyte growth
factor-induced cell proliferation, caused damage to mitochondria and JNK mediated EGCG-induced
apoptotic cell death mediated by Nrf2
Brain, prostate, cervical, bladder
cancers, colonic premalignant lesions
in mice, human colon cancer cells

13 Etoposide Podophyllum peltatum Mitotic block NA [67]

14 Fisetin  Acacia greggii, Acacia berlandieri,
(Strawberry and apple Euroasian smoketree, persimmon, grape, onion, and cucumber)
Induced the expression of Nrf2 and the phase II gene
product HO-1, Inhibits PI3K/Akt and mTOR signaling,
and Wnt signaling through the modulation of beta-catenin. Decreased cell viability with G1-phase arrest and disrupted Wnt/β- catenin signaling, inhibits the abilities of adhesion, migration, and invasion, and decreases the nuclear levels
of NF- κB and AP-1
Human colon cancer cells, human lung cancer cells, human retinal pigment
epithelial cells

15 Flavopiridol Amoora rohituka Inhibition of cell cycle progression NA [75]

16 Genistein Vicia faba
Soyabeans (kudzu, psoralea) Flemingia
Inhibition of 3A 4-mediated metabolism and oxidative metabolism
antiangiogenic effects and inhibiting the growth factors,
inhibiting DNA topoisomerase II.
Leukemia, colon cancer  [76-82]

17 Gingerol Zingiber officinle (Zinger) Decreases iNOS and TNF-alpha expression via
suppression of IκBα phosphorylation, NF-κB nuclear translocation and Inducing apoptosis of by mitochondrial pathway.
Colon, breast, ovarian, pancreatic and leukemia cells  [83-86]

18 Harringtonine Cephalotaxus harrintonia Inhibition of protein synthesis NA [87]

19 4-Ipomeanol Ipomea batatas Through cytochrome P450 mediated conversion into DNA binding metabolites NA [88]

  Irisquinone Iridaceaelatea pallasii Function as chemosensitizer NA [89]
20 Kaempferol Tea, broccoli, grapefruit, Brussels sprouts,
Induced apoptosis through the activation of p53 in the
intrinsic pathway, breast cancer resistance protein (Bcrp, Abcg2) inhibitor and may also be a Bcrp substrate.
Pancreatic cancer, lung cancer,
ovarian cancer cells, oesophageal
cancer and breast cancer

21 Lycopene Tomato, red carrot, watermelon, and
red papaya
By activating phase II detoxification enzymes, Inhibits
human cancer cell proliferation, and suppress insulin-like
growth factor-I stimulated growth
Prostate cancer
breast cancer cells endometrial cancer
cells and colon cancer cells

22 Pervilleines Erythroxylum pervillei As a P-glycoprotein inhibitor NA [101,102]

23 Phenyl isothiocyanates
Broccoli, cabbage (cruciferous vegetable) Induced the activation of caspase-8, -9, and -3-dependent pathways, leading to cell cycle arrest at the G2/M phase by modulation of cyclin B1 expression, caspase-independent
down regulation of Mcl-1, Akt inactivation and activation
of JNK, also increase the death receptors (DR4 and DR5) expression,  induced caspase-8 and truncated BID,
down-regulated the ERK1/2 and MEK phosphorylation.
Breast cancer cells, cervical cancer, osteogenic sarcoma, prostate cancer, myeloma cell lines and
metastatic human lung cancer cells.

24 Psoralidin Psorelia corylifola Inhanced apoptosis through Tumor necrosis factor NA [115]

25 Resveratrol Grapes skin and peanuts anti-initiation activity, anti-inflammatory effects and inhibiting cyclooxygenase and hydroperoxidase functions.
inhibit metastasis via reducing hypoxia inducible factor-1α
and MMP-9 expression, Wnt signaling and beta-catenin localization, increased AP-1 luciferase activity and induced
cell death, increased activation of LPS-induced NF-κB-luciferase activity at lower dose, but inhibited activation at
higher dose, reduced LPS-induced IκB alpha
phosphorylation and induced caspase-3 activation.
human promyelocytic leukemia,
skin tumor, gastrointestinal tract tumor, colon cancer cell, human colon cancer
cell line

26 Rosmarinic acid Culinary spice and medicinal herbs
(lemon balm, peppermint, sage, thyme,
oregano, and rosemary)
inhibits migration, adhesion, and invasion via the NF-κB pathway and simultes suppression of interleukin-8 (IL-8), sensitized TNF-α- induced apoptosis through the
suppression of NF-κB and reactive oxygen species
(ROS) and suppressed NF-κB activation through inhibition
of phosphorylation and degradation of IκBα, also
reduced 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA)-induced COX-2 promoter activity and protein levels,
repressed binding of the AP-1
human colon carcinoma cells, breast carcinoma, human leukemia cells,
non-malignant breast epithelial cell line

27 Salvicine Salvia priontis Inhibits topoisomerase II NA [125]
28 Silvestrol Aglaia foveolata Triggers extrinsic pathway of programmed cell death
of tumor cells through mitochondrial pathway
NA [126]

29 Sulforaphane cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels
sprouts and cabbages)
Down regulation of  Wnt/betacatenin self-renewal pathway, inhibited cancer cell growth by inducing apoptosis,
cytotoxicity with deleted p53, increased Bax, Bcl-2 inhibition followed by mitochondrial release of cytochrome c and activation of apoptosis, induced JNK activity, induced Nrf2 protein expression and ARE-mediated transcription
activation, retarded degradation of Nrf2 through inhibiting Keap1, and activated transcriptional expression of
antioxidant enzyme HO-1, suppressed NF-κB and
NF-κB-regulated gene expression through IκB-alpha,
and IKK pathway, p38 MAPK can phosphorylate
Nrf2 and enhances the association between Nrf2 and
Keap1 proteins, thereby potentially inhibiting Nrf2,
inhibited LPS-stimulated mRNA expression, protein
expression of TNF alpha, IL-1beta, COX-2 and iNOS, induced Nrf2-dependent detoxification and phase III transporters.
breast cancer stem cells, colon cancer
cells, human hepatoma cells, human
prostate cancer cells, liver and skin tumorigenesis in mice

30 Topotecan Comptotheca acuminate Inhibits DNA topoisomerase I NA [133]

31 Triterpenoids wax-like coatings of fruits and medicinal herbs Enhanced apoptosis, stimulating DR4, DR5,
caspase-3/7/8, Bax, JNK, MAPK, p38, decreasing PARP cleavage, suppressing COX-2, IL-1β, NF-κB, IKKα/β, cyclins (D1, A, B1), ERα protein and mRNA, HER2 phosphorylation, caveolin-1, Akt, JAK1, STAT 3, Bcl2,
c-Jun, c-Fos, JNK, mTOR and  blocking cell cycle at
G1, G1-S, G2-M.
breast cancer, pancreatic cancer [134]

32 Vitamin D3 Mushroom Vitamin D receptors (VDR). breast cancer, colon cancer, ovarian
cancer, prostate cancer and pancreatic cancer

33 Vitamin E (tocopherols) Sunflower oil inhibit NF-κB, STAT3 and COX-2, inhibit AKT and ERK activation and suppress cell proliferation by suppressing the ErbB2 pathway, selectively inhibit the HMG-CoA reductase pathway through posttranslational degradation, suppress the activity of NF-κB, reduced the activation of ERK MAP
kinase and that of its downstream mediator ribosomal protein S6 kinase (RSK) and suppressing the activation of AKT.
Anti-proliferative, pro-apoptotic
pancreatic cancer cell lines,

34 Vindesine Vinca roseus Mitotic block NA [144,145]

35 Vinorelbine Vinca roseus Mitotic block NA [145]

Sharma et al.Biochemical Compounds  2017 5:2DOI : 10.7243/2052-9341-5-2