Leukemia remains a major cause of death in both developing as well as developed nations worldwide. Development
of novel therapeutic approaches is perceived to be the best strategy to combat this disease. Availability of limited
effective drugs with least side effects is the major hurdle in treating leukemia. Another major concern remains initiation
and engagement of therapeutic strategies that may subvert or overcome drug-resistance. Deployment of plant-based molecules
in therapeutic engagements is regarded to be the most apt approach to combat different forms of leukemia. Diterpenoids
of natural origin have a broad range of therapeutic activities including anti-leukemic effect. In vitro and in vivo studies
establish many diterpenoids from natural sources and their synthetic derivatives to have appreciable cytotoxic and
apoptotic efficacies against a series of leukemic cells. This paper attempts to identify and describe diterpenoids with their
plant sources and analyze the molecular mechanistic approaches underlying their effective apoptotic activities against leukemic
cells studied till date. The present review article summarizes different categories of diterpenoids having various degrees
of anti-leukemic activities and discusses the measures of overcoming the bio-availability issues of these natural
molecules so that they can serve as extremely viable options in future leukemia therapy.
Keywords: Anti-cancer, apoptosis, cytotoxicity, diterpenoid, growth inhibition, leukemia.
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