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Recent perspectives on the anticancer properties of aqueous extracts of Nigerian Vernonia amygdalina

Authors Howard C, Johnson W, Pervin S, Izevbigie E

Received 23 May 2015

Accepted for publication 27 July 2015

Published 30 November 2015 Volume 2015:5 Pages 65—76

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/BTAT.S62984

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Mukesh Sikarwar

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Ayse Kuruuzum-Uz


Video abstract presented by Carolyn Bingham Howard and Shehla Pervin

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Carolyn Bingham Howard,1–3 William K Johnson,2,3 Shehla Pervin,4 Ernest B Izevbigie5

1Breast Cancer Research Laboratory, Research Centers in Minority Institutions, 2Department of Biology, 3NIH-Center for Environmental Health, College of Science, Engineering and Technology, Jackson State University, Jackson, MS, USA; 4Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, Charles R Drew University of Medicine and Science, Los Angeles, CA, USA; 5Benson Idahosa University, Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria


Abstract: Innovative developments are necessary for treating and defeating cancer, an oftentimes deadly group of diseases characterized by the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells. Breast cancer (BC) is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths of women in the USA, and prostate cancer (PC) is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths of American men. Although some efficacious BC drugs are pharmaceutically marketed, they affect the quality of life for some patients because they are toxic in that their usages have been accompanied by side effects such as stroke, thrombosis, slow heart rate, seizure, increased blood pressure, nausea, emesis, and more. Therefore, there is an urgent need for the discovery of molecular markers for early detection of this disease and discovery of targets for the development of novel, less toxic therapeutics. A botanical plant Vernonia amygdalina has been widely used in Nigerian and other Central and West African cultures for centuries as an herbal medicine. Mounting evidence suggests that treatment with low concentrations of aqueous leaf extracts of the edible Nigerian V. amygdalina plant (Niger-VA) arrests the proliferative activities and induces apoptosis in estrogen receptor-positive, estrogen receptor-negative, and triple-negative human breast cancerous cells and in androgen-independent human PC-3. Also, in athymic mice, Niger-VA potentiates increased efficacies and optimizes treatment outcomes when given as a cotreatment with conventional chemotherapy drugs. Evidence of its noticeable cytostatic activities ranging from changes in DNA synthesis to growth inhibition, mechanisms of inducing apoptosis in different cancer cell lines, and in vivo antitumorigenic activities and chemopreventive efficacy reinforce the idea that Niger-VA deserves increased attention for further development as a phytoceutical, anticancer drug entity. Hence, the present review article highlights impactful published literature on the anticancer effects of Niger-VA in multiple cancerous cell lines and in a nude mouse model, supporting its potential usefulness as a natural product, chemotherapeutic medicine for treatment of both BC and PC.

Keywords: breast cancer, prostate cancer, anticancer agents, antitumorigenic agents, chemopreventive natural products

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