Natural bioactive compounds with anti-carcinogenic activity are gaining tremendous interest in the field of oncology. Cinnamon, an aromatic condiment commonly used in tropical regions, appeared incredibly promising as adjuvant for cancer therapy. Indeed, its whole or active parts (e.g., bark, leaf) exhibited significant anti-carcinogenic activity, which is mainly due to two cinnamaldehyde derivatives, namely 2-hydroxycinnaldehyde (HCA) and 2-benzoyloxycinnamaldehyde (BCA). In addition to their anti-cancer activity, HCA and BCA exert immunomodulatory, anti-platelets, and anti-inflammatory activities. Highly reactive α,ß-unsaturated carbonyl pharmacophore, called Michael acceptor, contribute to their therapeutic effects. The molecular mechanisms, underlying their anti-tumoral and anti-metastatic effects are miscellaneous, strongly suggesting that these compounds are multi-targeting compounds. Nevertheless, unravelling the exact molecular mechanisms of HCA and BCA remain a challenging matter which is necessary for optimal controlled-drug targeting delivery, safety, and efficiency. Eventually, their poor pharmacological properties (e.g., systemic bioavailability and solubility) represent a limitation, and depend both on their administration route (e.g., per os, intravenously) and the nature of the formulation (e.g., free, smart nano-).
This concise review focused on the potential of HCA and BCA as adjuvants in Cancer. We described their medicinal effects as well as provide an update about their molecular mechanisms reported either in-vitro, ex-vivo, or in animal models.