Journal of Chinese Pharmaceutical Sciences ›› 2016, Vol. 25 ›› Issue (1): 23-29.DOI: 10.5246/jcps.2016.01.003

• Cancer prevention by traditional Chinese medicine and plant phytochemicals column • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Prenylated flavonoids from Glycyrrhiza uralensis as promising anti-cancer agents: a preliminary structure-activity study

Shunan Tang1, Wei Huang1, Shuai Ji2, Yongrui Wang1, Daoyong Pei1, Min Ye2, Siwang Yu1*   

  1. 1. Department of Chemical Biology, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Peking University Health Science Center, Beijing 100191, China
    2. Department of Natural Medicine, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Peking University Health Science Center, Beijing 100191, China
  • Received:2015-08-10 Revised:2015-09-25 Online:2016-01-27 Published:2015-10-18
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  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 81472657 and 81272468).


Prenylated flavonoids are mainly distributed in Leguminosae and Moraceae plants, and they have been reported to possess various biological activities. Previously, we have reported a prenylated isoflavonoid, isoangustone A (IAA) from licorice (Glycyrrhiza uralensis), which induces apoptosis in colorectal cancer cells by disrupting mitochondrial functions. In the present study, we compared a group of flavonoids from licorice with IAA for their anti-proliferation activities and effects on intracellular signaling. The results indicated that the isoprenyl groups on the A and B rings, the hydroxyl groups at the ortho position of isoprenyl on A ring and the conjugated plane of C ring might contribute to the anti-cancer activity of prenylated flavonoids. Based on the above structure-activity relationship, we further identified four prenylated flavonoids with similar anti-cancer activities from licorice. Taken together, our present study established a preliminary structure-activity relationship of anti-cancer prenylated flavonoids, and our data provided important leading compounds from licorice, which deserved further research and development.

Key words: Prenylated flavonoids, Licorice, Anti-cancer, Structure-activity relationship

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