Dang Gui: A Chinese herb for brain cancer therapy
Herbs are an important aspect of traditional Chinese medicine, as well as a rich source of unique chemicals. Among the medicinal herbs, Angelica sinensis is the most popular used in Chinese medicine. The main compounds found in the acetone extract of Angelica sinensis (AS-AC) are ferulic acid, ligustilide, brefeldin A, butylidenephthalide, and polysaccharides, the latter with potential therapeutic effect on various human cancers. Based on molecular evidence from in vitro and in vivo studies, we discuss here how butylidenephthalide suppresses tumor cell proliferation and promotes tumor cell apoptosis. The molecular mechanisms involved include butylidenephthalide-stimulated translocation of Nur77 from the nucleus to the cytoplasm, leading to tumor apoptosis. Butylidenephthalide likewise suppresses telomerase activity, resulting in tumor senescence. Finally, a controlled release system can increase localized butylidenephthalide concentration. Importantly, butylidenephthalide can cross the bloodebrain barrier. Current evidence suggests its efficacy against brain tumors and therefore potential clinical applications.