Squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck is one of the most common cancer types
worldwide. It initiates on the epithelial lining of the upper aerodigestive tract, at most instances as a
consequence of tobacco and alcohol consumption. Treatment options based on conventional therapies or
targeted therapies under development have limited efficacy due to multiple genetic alterations typically
found in this cancer type. Natural products derived from plants often possess biological activities that
may be valuable in the development of new therapeutic agents for cancer treatment. Several genera
from the family Celastraceae have been studied in this context. This review reports studies on chemical
constituents isolated from species from the Celastraceae family targeting cancer mechanisms studied to
date. These results are then correlated with molecular characteristics of head and neck squamous cell
carcinoma in an attempt to identify constituents with potential application in the treatment of this complex
disease at the molecular level.
Keywords: Celastraceae, Triterpenoids, Quinone-methides, Cancer, Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, Targeted therapy.
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