Cardiac glycosides, also known as cardiotonic steroids, are a group of natural products that share a steroid-like structure with an unsaturated lactone ring and the ability to induce cardiotonic effects mediated by a selective inhibition of the Na + /K + -ATPase. Cardiac glycosides have been used for many years in the treatment of cardiac congestion and some types of cardiac arrhythmias. Recent data suggest that cardiac glycosides may also be useful in the treatment of cancer. These compounds typically inhibit cancer cell proliferation at nanomolar concentrations, and recent high-throughput screenings of drug libraries have therefore identified cardiac glycosides as potent inhibitors of cancer cell growth. Cardiac glycosides can also block tumor growth in rodent models, which further supports the idea that they have potential for cancer therapy. Evidence also suggests, however, that cardiac glycosides may not inhibit cancer cell proliferation selectively and the potent inhibition of tumor growth induced by cardiac glycosides in mice xenografted with human cancer cells is probably an experimental artifact caused by their ability to selectively kill human cells versus rodent cells. This paper reviews such evidence and discusses experimental approaches that could be used to reveal the cancer therapeutic potential of cardiac glycosides in preclinical studies.
Calderón-Montaño, J. M., Burgos-Morón, E., Orta, M. L., Maldonado-Navas, D., García-Domínguez, I., & López-Lázaro, M. (2014). Evaluating the cancer therapeutic potential of cardiac glycosides. BioMed Research International. Hindawi Publishing Corporation. https://doi.org/10.1155/2014/794930