1,4-naphthoquinones: from oxidative damage to cellular and inter-cellular signaling

Molecules. 2014 Sep 17;19(9):14902-18. doi: 10.3390/molecules190914902.


Naphthoquinones may cause oxidative stress in exposed cells and, therefore, affect redox signaling. Here, contributions of redox cycling and alkylating properties of quinones (both natural and synthetic, such as plumbagin, juglone, lawsone, menadione, methoxy-naphthoquinones, and others) to cellular and inter-cellular signaling processes are discussed: (i) naphthoquinone-induced Nrf2-dependent modulation of gene expression and its potentially beneficial outcome; (ii) the modulation of receptor tyrosine kinases, such as the epidermal growth factor receptor by naphthoquinones, resulting in altered gap junctional intercellular communication. Generation of reactive oxygen species and modulation of redox signaling are properties of naphthoquinones that render them interesting leads for the development of novel compounds of potential use in various therapeutic settings.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alkylating Agents / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Cell Communication
  • Humans
  • Naphthoquinones / pharmacology*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational / drug effects
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction


  • Alkylating Agents
  • Naphthoquinones
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • 1,4-naphthoquinone