Triterpenoids as potential agents for the chemoprevention and therapy of breast cancer

Front Biosci (Landmark Ed). 2011 Jan 1;16:980-96. doi: 10.2741/3730.


Breast cancer remains a major cause of death in the United States as well as the rest of the world. In view of the limited treatment options for patients with advanced breast cancer, preventive and novel therapeutic approaches play an important role in combating this disease. The plant-derived triterpenoids, commonly used for medicinal purposes in many Asian countries, posses various pharmacological properties. A large number of triterpenoids are known to exhibit cytotoxicity against a variety of tumor cells as well as anticancer efficacy in preclinical animal models. Numerous triterpenoids have been synthesized by structural modification of natural compounds. Some of these analogs are considered to be the most potent antiinflammatory and anticarcinogenic triterpenoids known. This review examines the potential role of natural triterpenoids and their derivatives in the chemoprevention and treatment of mammary tumors. Both in vitro and in vivo effects of these agents and related molecular mechanisms are presented. Potential challenges and future directions involved in the advancement of these promising compounds in the prevention and therapy of human breast cancer are also identified.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / chemistry
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / therapeutic use
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Chemoprevention
  • Glycosides / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Oleanolic Acid / analogs & derivatives
  • Oleanolic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Triterpenes / therapeutic use*


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Glycosides
  • Triterpenes
  • cucurbitane
  • friedelane
  • oleanane
  • lupane
  • Oleanolic Acid
  • ursolic acid