Diosgenin, a well-known steroid sapogenin derived from plants, has been used as a starting material for production of steroidal hormones. The present review will summarize published literature concerning pharmacological potential of diosgenin, and the underlying mechanisms of actions. Diosgenin has shown a vast range of pharmacological activities in preclinical studies. It exhibits anticancer, cardiovascular protective, anti-diabetes, neuroprotective, immunomodulatory, estrogenic, and skin protective effects, mainly by inducing apoptosis, suppressing malignant transformation, decreasing oxidative stress, preventing inflammatory events, promoting cellular differentiation/proliferation, and regulating T-cell immune response, etc. It interferes with cell death pathways and their regulators to induce apoptosis. Diosgenin antagonizes tumor metastasis by modulating epithelial-mesenchymal transition and actin cytoskeleton to change cellular motility, suppressing degradation of matrix barrier, and inhibiting angiogenesis. Additionally, diosgenin improves antioxidant status and inhibits lipid peroxidation. Its anti-inflammatory activity is through inhibiting production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, enzymes and adhesion molecules. Furthermore, diosgenin drives cellular growth/differentiation through the estrogen receptor (ER) cascade and transcriptional factor PPARγ. In summary, these mechanistic studies provide a basis for further development of this compound for pharmacotherapy of various diseases.
Chen, Y., Tang, Y. M., Yu, S. L., Han, Y. W., Kou, J. P., Liu, B. L., & Yu, B. Y. (2015). Advances in the pharmacological activities and mechanisms of diosgenin. Chinese Journal of Natural Medicines, 13(8), 578–587. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1875-5364(15)30053-4