Withaferin A and its potential role in glioblastoma (GBM)

J Neurooncol. 2017 Jan;131(2):201-211. doi: 10.1007/s11060-016-2303-x. Epub 2016 Nov 11.


Within the Ayurvedic medical tradition of India, Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a well-known herb. A large number of withanolides have been isolated from both its roots and its leaves and many have been assessed for their pharmacological activities. Amongst them, Withaferin A is one of its most bioactive phytoconstituents. Due to the lactonal steroid's potential to modulate multiple oncogenic pathways, Withaferin A has gained much attention as a possible anti-neoplastic agent. This review focuses on the use of Withaferin A alone, or in combination with other treatments, as a newer option for therapy against the most aggressive variant of brain tumors, Glioblastoma. We survey the various studies that delineate Withaferin A's anticancer mechanisms, its toxicity profiles, its pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics and its immuno-modulating properties.

Keywords: Anticancer; Ashwagandha; Glioblastoma; Immunomodulation; Oncogenic pathways; Pharmacodynamics; Pharmacokinetics; Pharmacological; Withaferin A; Withania somnifera; Withanolides.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Brain Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Glioblastoma / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Withanolides / pharmacology
  • Withanolides / therapeutic use*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Withanolides
  • withaferin A