Taraxasterol and beta-sitosterol: new naturally compounds with chemoprotective/chemopreventive effects

Neoplasma. 2004;51(6):407-14.


Substantial attention has been given to primary cancer prevention in daily life. Dietary factors are through to contribute to as much as one-third of the factors influencing the development of cancer. Ones of the components of a plant-based diet are beta-sitosterol and taraxasterol, compounds attracting our specific attention. This review summarizes the biological activities of presented phytosterols (anti-inflammatory, cholesterol-lowering, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal effects). Our interest has been focussed especially on their anti-tumor and chemopreventive activity. They have been shown experimentally to inhibit colon and breast cancer development. They act at various stages of tumor development, including inhibition of tumorigenesis, inhibition of tumor promotion, and induction of cell differentiation. They effectively inhibit invasion of tumor cells and metastasis. With regard to toxicity, no obvious side effects of phytosterols have been observed in studies to date, with the exception of individuals with phytosterolemia. The exact mechanism by which dietary phytosterols act is not fully understood. However, some mechanisms have been offered. Therefore, they have a bright future in clinical application. Further investigation to explore their potential in tumor treatment may prove to be worthwhile.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Diet*
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Phytosterols / pharmacology
  • Sitosterols / pharmacology*
  • Sterols / pharmacology*
  • Triterpenes / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Phytosterols
  • Sitosterols
  • Sterols
  • Triterpenes
  • gamma-sitosterol
  • taraxasterol