Molecular targets and anticancer potential of sanguinarine—a benzophenanthridine alkaloid

Sehamuddin Galadari, Anees Rahman, Siraj Pallichankandy, Faisal Thayyullathil

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background Cancer is an enormous global health burden, and should be effectively addressed with better therapeutic strategies. Currently, over 60% of the clinically approved anticancer agents are either directly isolated from natural sources or are modified from natural lead molecules. Sanguinarine (SNG), a quaternary benzophenanthridine alkaloid has gained increasing attention in recent years as a potential anticancer agent. Purpose There is a large untapped source of phytochemical-based anticancer agents remaining to be explored. This review article aims to recapitulate different anticancer properties of SNG, and describes some of the molecular targets involved in exerting its effect. It also depicts the pharmacokinetic and toxicological properties of SNG, two parameters important in determining the druggability of a molecule. Methods Numerous in vivo and in vitro published studies have signified the anticancer properties of SNG. In order to collate and decipher these properties, an extensive literature search was conducted in PubMed, ScienceDirect, and Scopus using keywords followed by the evaluation of the relevant articles where the relevant reports are integrated and analyzed. Results Apart from inducing cell death, SNG inhibits pro-tumorigenic processes such as invasion, angiogenesis, and metastasis in different cancers. Moreover, SNG has been shown to synergistically enhance the sensitivity of several chemotherapeutic agents and is effective against a variety of multi-drug resistant cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-153
Number of pages11
StatePublished - Oct 15 2017


  • Anticancer
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell death
  • Phytochemicals
  • ROS
  • Sanguinarine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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