The antiproliferative properties of cyclopentenone prostaglandins of the A-class have long been known. Considerable research has led to the elucidation of some of the mechanisms of action of these pleiotropic compounds. A-class prostaglandins or derived molecules (A-PG) may block the cell cycle, inhibit anti-apoptotic transcription factors, activate apoptotic cascades, induce a stress response and inhibit protein synthesis in a cell type-dependent manner. In addition, recent reports indicate that A-class PG may interact with various cellular detoxification systems and drug metabolizing enzymes used by cancer cells as mechanisms of chemoresistance. Some of these findings may open new perspectives for the development of strategies aimed at overcoming cancer resistance to widely used antitumor drugs. Here we outline the mechanisms of action for the antitumoral effects of PGA and related compounds, emphasizing those with impact on cellular defence systems which may contribute to cancer chemoresistance. The ability of A-PG to form covalent adducts with thiol groups in proteins and in glutathione is essential for their biological actions. Therefore, identification of the protein targets and elucidation of the interactions of A-PG with the glutathione biotransformation system will be critical for understanding the antitumoral effects of these compounds per se or through their ability to sensitize cancer cells towards other drugs.
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