Background: Cancer metastasis has emerged as a major public health threat that causes majority
of cancer fatalities. Traditional chemotherapeutics have been effective in the past but suffer from
low therapeutic efficiency and harmful side-effects. Recently, it has been reported ursolic acid (UA),
one of the naturally abundant pentacyclic triterpenes, possesses a wide range of biological activities including
anti-inflammatory, anti-atherosclerotic, and anti-cancer properties. More importantly, UA has
the features of low toxicity, liver protection and the potential of anti-cancer metastasis.
Objective: This article aimed at reviewing the great potential of UA used as a candidate drug in the
field of cancer therapy relating to suppression of tumor initiation, progression and metastasis.
Methods: Selective searches were conducted in Pubmed, Google Scholar and Web of Science using
the keywords and subheadings from database inception to December 2017. Systemic reviews are
Results: UA has exhibited chemopreventive and therapeutic effects of cancer mainly through inducing
apoptosis, inhibiting cell proliferation, preventing tumor angiogenesis and metastatic. UA nanoformulations
could enhance the solubility and bioavailability of UA as well as exhibit better inhibitory
effect on tumor growth and metastasis.
Conclusion: The information presented in this article can provide useful references for further studies
on making UA a promising anti-cancer drug, especially as a prophylactic metastatic agent for