Anthracycline-derived chemotherapeutics in apoptosis and free radical cytotoxicity (Review)

Int J Mol Med. 1998 Feb;1(2):491-4. doi: 10.3892/ijmm.1.2.491.


Anthracycline-derivatives are frequently used chemotherapeutics in treatment of numerous human malignancies. Anthracyclines are known for their complex cytotoxic mechanism involving i) inhibition of enzymes such as topoisomerase II, RNA polymerase, cytochrome c oxidase and others; ii) intercalation into DNA; iii) chelation of iron and generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS); iv) induction of apoptosis. Here, mechanistic aspects for successful cytostasis and for side effects, e.g. cardiomyopathy, are discussed. We emphasize recent developments in anthracycline-mediated apoptosis and focus on a well known representative, doxorubicin (adriamycin, adriblastin). We reflect on the role of oxidative stress and interactions with intracellular signaling pathways.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthracyclines / toxicity*
  • Apoptosis*
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Doxorubicin / toxicity
  • Drug Resistance
  • Free Radicals
  • Humans
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases*


  • Anthracyclines
  • Free Radicals
  • Doxorubicin
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinases
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases