Traditional Chinese medicine targeting apoptotic mechanisms for esophageal cancer therapy

Authors: Yu-shuang ZHANG, Qiang SHEN, Jing LI
DOI: 10.1038/aps.2015.116


Esophageal cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the world, and it demonstrates a distinct geographical distribution pattern in China. In the last decade, inducing apoptosis with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has become an active area in both fundamental and clinical research on cancer therapy. In this review, we summarize the molecular mechanisms by which TCM induces apoptosis in esophageal cancer cells. These mechanisms are generally related but not limited to targeting the extrinsic death receptor pathway, the intrinsic mitochondrial pathway, and the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress pathway. By using different monomers and composite prescriptions of TCM, it is possible to modulate the ratio of Bcl-2/Bax, regulate the expression of caspase proteases and mitochondrial transmembrane potential, increase the expression of Fas and p53, down-regulate NF-κB pathway and the expression of Chop and survivin, and block cell cycle progression.
Keywords: traditional Chinese medicine (TCM); esophageal cancer; apoptosis

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