Nat Prod Sci.  2020 Mar;26(1):28-49. 10.20307/nps.2020.26.1.28.

Recent Findings on the Mechanism of Cisplatin-Induced Renal Cytotoxicity and Therapeutic Potential of Natural Compounds

  • 1College of Korean Medicine, Gachon University, Seongnam 13120, Korea
  • 2School of Pharmacy, Sungkyunkwan University, Suwon 16419, Korea


The efficacy and side effects associated with anticancer drugs have attracted an extensive research focus. Onconephrology is an evolving field of nephrology that deals with the study of kidney diseases in cancer patients. Most renal diseases in cancer patients are unique, and management of renal disease can be challenging especially in the presence of continuing use of the nephrotoxic drugs. Cisplatin is one of the most important chemotherapeutic agents used in the treatment of various malignancies, such as head, neck, ovarian, and cervical cancers. The major limitation in the clinical use of cisplatin is its tendency to induce adverse effects, such as nephrotoxicity. Recently, plant-derived phytochemicals have emerged as novel agents providing protection against cisplatin-induced renal cytotoxicity. Owing to the diversity of phytochemicals, they cover a wide spectrum of therapeutic indications in cancer and inflammation and have been a productive source of lead compounds for the development of novel medications. Of these agents, the effectiveness of triterpenoids, isolated from various medicinal plants, against cisplatin-induced renal cytotoxicity has been reported most frequently compared to other phytochemicals. Triterpenes are one of the most numerous and diverse groups of plant natural products. Triterpenes ameliorate cisplatin-induced renal damage through multiple pathways by inhibiting reactive oxygen species, inflammation, down-regulation of the MAPK, apoptosis, and NF-κB signaling pathways and upregulation of Nrf2-mediated antioxidant defense mechanisms. Here, we reviewed recent findings on the natural compounds with protective potential in cisplatin-induced renal cytotoxicity, provided an overview of the protective effects and mechanisms that have been identified to date, and discussed strategies to reduce renal cytotoxicity induced by anticancer drugs.


Cisplatin; nephrotoxicity; oxidative stress; apoptosis; inflammation
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