Withaferin A from withania somnifera herb
Feb 28 2017

Withaferin A is a withanolide chemical constituent from Ashwagandha herb. It has been reported for its tumor cell growth inhibitory activity, antitumor effects, and impairing metastasis and angiogenesis.

Anti-inflammatory
Inhibition of monosodium urate crystal-induced inflammation by withaferin A.
J Pharm Pharm Sci. 2008; Sabina EP, Chandal S. School of Biotechnology, Chemical and Biomedical engineering, VIT University Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India.
Gouty arthritis is a characteristically intense acute inflammatory reaction resulting from the formation of sodium urate crystals in the joint cavity. In the present study, the effect of withaferin A, a steroidal lactone was investigated on monosodium urate crystal-induced inflammation in mice; an experimental model for gouty arthritis and compared it with that of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, indomethacin. The present findings clearly indicated that withaferin A exerted a strong anti-inflammatory effect against gouty arthritis.

Anticoagulant, blood thinner
Vascul Pharmacol. 2014 Feb 15. Antiplatelet, anticoagulant, and profibrinolytic activities of withaferin A. WFA, an active compound from Withania somnifera, is widely researched for its anti-inflammatory, cardioactive and central nervous system effects. However, antiplatelet, anticoagulant, and profibrinolytic properties of WFA have not been studied. In this study, the anticoagulant activities of WFA were measured by monitoring activated partial thromboplastin-time (aPTT), prothrombin time (PT), fibrin polymerization, platelet aggregation, thrombus formation, and the activities of cell-based thrombin and activated factor X (FXa). The effects of WFA on the expressions of plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1 (PAI-1) and tissue-type plasminogen activator (t-PA) were also tested in tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) activated human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). Our data showed that WFA inhibited thrombin-catalyzed fibrin polymerization and platelet aggregation, FeCl3-induced thrombus formation, prolonged aPTT and PT significantly and inhibited the activities and production of thrombin and FXa. WFA prolonged in vivo and ex vivo bleeding time and inhibited TNF-α induced PAI-1 production. Furthermore, PAI-1/t-PA ratio was significantly decreased by WFA. Collectively, these results indicate that WFA possesses antithrombotic activities and suggest that the current study could provide bases for the development of new anticoagulant agents.

Breast cancer
PLoS One. 2016. Withaferin A Induces ROS-Mediated Paraptosis in Human Breast Cancer Cell-Lines MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231.

Colon cancer
Notch-1 inhibition by Withaferin-A: a therapeutic target against colon carcinogenesis.
Mol Cancer Ther. 2010: Koduru S, Kumar R, Srinivasan S, Evers MB, Damodaran C. Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Health Sciences, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA.
Notch signaling plays a crucial role in the development of colon cancer; targeting the Notch pathway may sensitize colon cancers to various adjuvant agents. The focus of our current study is to identify natural compounds that target Notch signaling and that might be beneficial for the prevention and treatment of colon cancer. Withaferin-A (WA) is a bioactive compound derived from Withania somnifera, which inhibits Notch-1 signaling and downregulates prosurvival pathways, such as Akt/NF-kappaB/Bcl-2, in three colon cancer cell lines (HCT-116, SW-480, and SW-620). In addition, WA downregulated the expression of mammalian target of rapamycin signaling components, pS6K and p4E-BP1, and activated c-Jun-NH(2)-kinase-mediated apoptosis in colon cancer cells. We also established the molecular link between Notch/Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin signaling by complementary approaches (i.e., overexpression of Notch-1 or inhibition of Notch-1 by small interfering RNA). Our results suggest that WA inhibits Notch-mediated prosurvival signaling, which facilitates c-Jun-NH(2)-kinase-mediated apoptosis in colon cancer cell lines. These results underscore the anticancer activity of WA, which exhibits potential for further development for targeted chemotherapy and/or chemoprevention strategies in the context of colon cancer.

Glioblastoma
J Neurooncol. 2016. Withaferin A and its potential role in glioblastoma (GBM). Within the Ayurvedic medical tradition of India, Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a well-known herb. A large number of withanolides have been isolated from both its roots and its leaves and many have been assessed for their pharmacological activities. Amongst them, Withaferin A is one of its most bioactive phytoconstituents. Due to the lactonal steroid's potential to modulate multiple oncogenic pathways, Withaferin A has gained much attention as a possible anti-neoplastic agent. This review focuses on the use of Withaferin A alone, or in combination with other treatments, as a newer option for therapy against the most aggressive variant of brain tumors, Glioblastoma. We survey the various studies that delineate Withaferin A's anticancer mechanisms, its toxicity profiles, its pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics and its immuno-modulating properties.

Leukemia
Induction of apoptosis by withaferin A in human leukemia U937 cells through down-regulation of Akt phosphorylation.
Apoptosis. 2008; Department of Immunology, School of Medicine, Keimyung University, Taegu, South Korea.
The mechanism by which withaferin A initiates apoptosis remains poorly understood. In the present report, we investigated the effect of withaferin A on the apoptotic pathway in U937 human promonocytic cells. We show that withaferin A induces apoptosis in association with the activation of caspase-3. JNK and Akt signal pathways play crucial roles in withaferin A-induced apoptosis in U937 cells. Furthermore, we have shown that overexpression of Bcl-2 and active Akt (myr-Akt) in U937 cells inhibited the induction of apoptosis, activation of caspase-3, and PLC-gamma1 cleavage by withaferin A. Taken together, our results indicated that the JNK and Akt pathways and inhibition of NF-kappaB activity were key regulators of apoptosis in response to withaferin A in human leukemia U937 cells.