Andrographolide, a diterpene lactone from Andrographis paniculata and its therapeutic promises in cancer

Cancer Lett. 2018 Apr 28;420:129-145. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2018.01.074. Epub 2018 Feb 14.


The diterpene lactone andrographolide, isolated from Andrographis paniculata, has been proven to possess several important protective biological activities, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, antiseptic, antimicrobial, cytotoxic, hypolipidemic, cardioprotective, hepatoprotective, and neuroprotective effects. In addition, it has been reported to play a therapeutic role in the treatment of major human diseases, such as Parkinson's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and colitis. This systematic review aims to highlight andrographolide as a promising agent in cancer treatment. To this purpose, a number of databases were used to search for the cytotoxic/anticancer effects of andrographolide in pre-clinical and clinical studies. Among 1703 identified literature articles, 139 were included in this review; 109 were investigated as non-clinical, whereas 24, 3, and 3 were pre-clinical, clinical, and non-pre-clinical trials, respectively. Among the model systems, cultured cell lines appeared as the most frequently (79.14%) used, followed by in vivo models using rodents, among others. Furthermore, andrographolide was found to exert cytotoxic/anticancer effects on almost all types of cell lines with the underlying mechanisms involving oxidative stress, cell cycle arrest, anti-inflammatory and immune system mediated effects, apoptosis, necrosis, autophagy, inhibition of cell adhesion, proliferation, migration, invasion, anti-angiogenic activity, and other miscellaneous actions. After careful consideration of the relevant evidence, we suggest that andrographolide can be one of the potential agents in the treatment of cancer in the near future.

Keywords: Andrographis paniculata; Andrographolide; Anticancer; Bioactive lactone; Chemotherapy; Diterpene lactone.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Andrographis / chemistry*
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / therapeutic use*
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Diterpenes / chemistry
  • Diterpenes / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Diterpenes
  • Plant Extracts
  • andrographolide