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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2016, Article ID 5293284, 10 pages
Review Article

Roles of Reactive Oxygen Species in Anticancer Therapy with Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge

Yu-Chiang Hung,1,2 Tai-Long Pan,3,4,5,6 and Wen-Long Hu1,7,8

1Department of Chinese Medicine, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and Chang Gung University College of Medicine, No. 123, Dapi Road, Niaosong District, Kaohsiung 83342, Taiwan
2School of Chinese Medicine for Post Baccalaureate, I-Shou University, No. 1, Sec. 1, Syuecheng Road, Dashu District, Kaohsiung 84001, Taiwan
3School of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chang Gung University, No. 259 Wen-Hwa 1st Road, Kweishan, Taoyuan 33302, Taiwan
4Liver Research Center, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, No. 259 Wen-Hwa 1st Road, Kweishan, Taoyuan 33302, Taiwan
5Research Center for Industry of Human Ecology, Chang Gung University of Science and Technology, Kweishan, Taoyuan 83302, Taiwan
6Department of Medical Research, China Medical University Hospital, China Medical University, No. 91 Hsush-Shih Road, Taichung 40402, Taiwan
7Kaohsiung Medical University College of Medicine, No. 100, Shihcyuan 1st Road, Sanmin District, Kaohsiung 807, Taiwan
8Fooyin University College of Nursing, No. 151, Chinhsueh Road, Ta-Liao District, Kaohsiung 831, Taiwan

Received 6 March 2016; Revised 16 June 2016; Accepted 27 June 2016

Academic Editor: Pavel P. Philippov

Copyright © 2016 Yu-Chiang Hung et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide. We aim to provide a systematic review about the roles of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in anticancer therapy with Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge (Danshen). Danshen, including its lipophilic and hydrophilic constituents, is potentially beneficial for treating various cancers. The mechanisms of ROS-related anticancer effects of Danshen vary depending on the specific type of cancer cells involved. Danshen may enhance TNF-α-induced apoptosis, upregulate caspase-3, caspase-8, caspase-9, endoplasmic reticulum stress, P21, P53, Bax/Bcl-2, DR5, and AMP-activated protein kinase, or activate the p38/JNK, mitogen-activated protein kinase, and FasL signaling pathways. Conversely, Danshen may downregulate human telomerase reverse transcriptase mRNA, telomerase, survivin, vascular endothelial growth factor/vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2, CD31, NF-κB, Erk1/2, matrix metalloproteinases, microtubule assembly, and receptor tyrosine kinases including epidermal growth factor receptors, HER2, and P-glycoprotein and inhibit the PI3K/Akt/mTOR or estrogen receptor signaling pathways. Therefore, Danshen may inhibit cancer cells proliferation through antioxidation on tumor initiation and induce apoptosis or autophagy through ROS generation on tumor progression, tumor promotion, and tumor metastasis. Based on the available evidence regarding its anticancer properties, this review provides new insights for further anticancer research or clinical trials with Danshen.