Therapeutic Role of Alkaloids and Alkaloid Derivatives in Cancer Management

Kolawole Olofinsan, Heidi Abrahamse, Blassan P. George

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Cancer is a neoplastic disease that remains a global challenge with a reported prevalence that is increasing annually. Though existing drugs can be applied as single or combined therapies for managing this pathology, their concomitant adverse effects in human applications have led to the need to continually screen natural products for effective and alternative anticancer bioactive principles. Alkaloids are chemical molecules that, due to their structural diversity, constitute a reserve for the discovery of lead compounds with interesting pharmacological activities. Several in vitro studies and a few in vivo findings have documented various cytotoxic and antiproliferative properties of alkaloids. This review describes chaetocochin J, neopapillarine, coclaurine, reflexin A, 3,10-dibromofascaplysin and neferine, which belong to different alkaloid classes with antineoplastic properties and have been identified recently from plants. Despite their low solubility and bioavailability, plant-derived alkaloids have viable prospects as sources of viable lead antitumor agents. This potential can be achieved if more research on these chemical compounds is directed toward investigating ways of improving their delivery in an active form close to target cells, preferably with no effect on neighboring normal tissues.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5578
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


  • alkaloid classifications
  • alkaloids
  • antineoplastic
  • cancer therapeutics
  • plants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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