, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 793-810
Date: 05 Feb 2014

Oleanane triterpenoids in the prevention and therapy of breast cancer: current evidence and future perspectives

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Breast cancer is one of the most frequently diagnosed cancers and major cause of death in women in the world. Emerging evidence underscores the value of dietary and non-dietary phytochemicals, including triterpenoids, in the prevention and treatment of breast cancer. Oleanolic acid, an oleanane-type pentacyclic triterpenoid, is present in a large number of dietary and medicinal plants. Oleanolic acid and its derivatives exhibit several promising pharmacological activities, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, cardioprotective, antipruritic, spasmolytic, antiallergic, antimicrobial and antiviral effects. Numerous studies indicate that oleanolic acid and other oleanane triterpenoids modulate multiple intracellular signaling pathways and exert chemopreventive and antitumor activities in various in vitro and in vivo model systems. A series of novel synthetic oleanane triterpenoids have been prepared by chemical modifications of oleanolic acid and some of these compounds are considered to be the most potent anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic triterpenoids. Accumulating studies provide extensive evidence that synthetic oleanane derivatives inhibit proliferation and induce apoptosis of various cancer cells in vitro and demonstrate cancer preventive or antitumor efficacy in animal models of blood, breast, colon, connective tissue, liver, lung, pancreas, prostate and skin cancer. This review critically examines the potential role of oleanolic acid, oleanane triterpenoids and related synthetic compounds in the chemoprevention and treatment of mammary neoplasia. Both in vitro and in vivo studies on these agents and related molecular mechanisms are presented. Several challenges and future directions of research to translate already available impressive preclinical knowledge to clinical practice of breast cancer prevention and therapy are also presented.