The “Yin and Yang” of natural compounds in anticancer therapy of triple-negative breast cancers

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15 Citations (Scopus)


Among the different types of breast cancers, triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs) are highly aggressive, do not respond to conventional hormonal/human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-targeted interventions due to the lack of the respective receptor targets, have chances of early recurrence, metastasize, tend to be more invasive in nature, and develop drug resistance. The global burden of TNBCs is increasing regardless of the number of cytotoxic drugs being introduced into the market each year as they have only moderate efficacy and/or unforeseen side effects. Therefore, the demand for more efficient therapeutic interventions, with reduced side effects, for the treatment of TNBCs is rising. While some plant metabolites/derivatives actually induce the risk of cancers, many plant-derived active principles have gained attention as efficient anticancer agents against TNBCs, with fewer adverse side effects. Here we discuss the possible oncogenic molecular pathways in TNBCs and how the purified plant-derived natural compounds specifically target and modulate the genes and/or proteins involved in these aberrant pathways to exhibit their anticancer potential. We have linked the anticancer potential of plant-derived natural compounds (luteolin, chalcones, piperine, deguelin, quercetin, rutin, fisetin, curcumin, resveratrol, and others) to their ability to target multiple dysregulated signaling pathways (such as the Wnt/β-catenin, Notch, NF-κB, PI3K/Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and Hedgehog) leading to suppression of cell growth, proliferation, migration, inflammation, angiogenesis, epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and metastasis, and activation of apoptosis in TNBCs. Plant-derived compounds in combination with classical chemotherapeutic agents were more efficient in the treatment of TNBCs, possibly with lesser side effects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number346
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018



  • Anticancer therapy
  • Apoptosis
  • Chemotherapy
  • Natural compounds
  • Signaling pathways
  • Triple-negative breast cancers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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