Oxidative Stress Inducers in Cancer Therapy: Preclinical and Clinical Evidence

Zohra Nausheen Nizami, Hanan E. Aburawi, Abdelhabib Semlali, Khalid Muhammad, Rabah Iratni

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are metabolic byproducts that regulate various cellular processes. However, at high levels, ROS induce oxidative stress, which in turn can trigger cell death. Cancer cells alter the redox homeostasis to facilitate protumorigenic processes; however, this leaves them vulnerable to further increases in ROS levels. This paradox has been exploited as a cancer therapeutic strategy with the use of pro-oxidative drugs. Many chemotherapeutic drugs presently in clinical use, such as cisplatin and doxorubicin, induce ROS as one of their mechanisms of action. Further, various drugs, including phytochemicals and small molecules, that are presently being investigated in preclinical and clinical studies attribute their anticancer activity to ROS induction. Consistently, this review aims to highlight selected pro-oxidative drugs whose anticancer potential has been characterized with specific focus on phytochemicals, mechanisms of ROS induction, and anticancer effects downstream of ROS induction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1159
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • cancer therapy
  • oxidative stress
  • phytochemicals
  • reactive oxygen species

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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