Iridoid Derivatives as Anticancer Agents: An Updated Review from 1970–2022

Tanaka Ndongwe, Bwalya A. Witika, Nontobeko P. Mncwangi, Madan S. Poka, Phumzile P. Skosana, Patrick H. Demana, Beverley Summers, Xavier Siwe-Noundou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The rise of cancer cases has coincided with the urgent need for the development of potent chemical entities and/or modification of existing commodities to improve their efficacy. Increasing evidence suggests that cancer remains one of the leading causes of death globally, with colon cancer cases alone likely to rise exponentially by 2030. The exponential rise in cancer prevalence is largely attributable to the growing change toward a sedentary lifestyle and modern diets, which include genetically modified foods. At present, the prominent treatments for cancer are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation. Despite slowing cancer progression, these treatments are known to have devastating side effects that may deteriorate the health of the patient, thus, have a low risk–benefit ratio. In addition, many cancer drugs have low bioavailability, thereby limiting their therapeutic effects in cancer patients. Moreover, the drastic rise in the resistance of neoplastic cells to chemotherapeutic agents is rendering the use of some drugs ineffective, thereby signaling the need for more anticancer chemical entities. As a result, the use of natural derivatives as anticancer agents is gaining considerable attention. Iridoids have the potential to form conjugates with other anticancer, antidiabetic, antileishmanial, and antimalarial drugs, which synergistically have the potential to increase their effects. Published studies have identified the role of iridoids, which, if fully explored, may result in cheaper and less toxic alternative/adjuvant cancer drugs. The subject of this article is natural and synthetic iridoid derivatives and their potential therapeutic roles as anticancer agents.

Original languageEnglish
Article number770
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


  • cancer agents
  • characterization
  • chemotherapy
  • iridoid derivatives
  • isolation
  • mode of actions
  • structure-activity relationship


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