Paraptosis in the anti-cancer arsenal of natural products

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Given the problems with malignant cancer cells showing innate and acquired resistance to apoptosis, we need alternative means to induce cell death in cancer. Paraptosis is a type of programmed cell death that is characterized by dilation of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and/or mitochondria. Although relatively little is known regarding the molecular basis of paraptosis, the underlying mechanism clearly differs from that of apoptosis. Recent studies have shown that various natural products, including curcumin, celastrol, 15d-PGJ2, ophiobolin A, and paclitaxel, demonstrate anti-cancer effects by inducing the paraptosis-associated cell death, which was commonly characterized by vacuolation derived from the ER. Perturbation of cellular proteostasis due to proteasomal inhibition and disruption of sulfhydryl homeostasis, generation of reactive oxygen species, and/or imbalanced homeostasis of ions (e.g., Ca2+ and K+) appear to contribute to the accumulation of misfolded protein and proteotoxicity in this process. Given the pathophysiological importance of paraptosis and the debate regarding the importance of apoptosis in solid tumor, we need to collect the available knowledge regarding paraptosis and suggest future directions in the field. Here, we review the morphological and biochemical features of paraptosis, the natural products that induce paraptosis-associated cell death, their proposed mechanisms, and the significance of paraptosis as a potential anti-cancer strategy. Such work and future clarifications should enable the development of new strategies for preventing cancer and/or combating malignant cancer.

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