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Review ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Pharmacol. | doi: 10.3389/fphar.2019.01262

Surprising anticancer activities of psychiatric medications: old drugs offer new hope for patients with brain cancer

 Chuanjun Zhuo1*, Zhiyuan Xun2, 3, Weihong Hou4, Feng Ji4, Xiaodong Lin5, Hongjun Tian2, Weifang Zheng5, Min Chen4,  Chuanxin Liu4, Ce Chen5 and Wenqiang Wang6
  • 1Tianjin Anding Hospital, China
  • 2Tianjin Medical University, China
  • 3Nankai University, China
  • 4Jining Medical University, China
  • 5Wenzhou Seventh People’s Hospital, China
  • 6Xiamen Xianyue Hospital, China

Despite decades of research and major efforts, malignant brain tumors remain among the deadliest of all cancers. Recently, an increasing number of psychiatric drugs has been proven to possess suppressing activities against brain tumors, and rapid progress has been made in understanding the potential mechanisms of action of these drugs. In particular, the traditional mood stabilizer valproic acid, the widely used antidepressants fluoxetine and escitalopram oxalate, and the atypical psychiatric drug aripiprazole have demonstrated promise for application in brain tumor treatment strategies through multiple lines of laboratory, preclinical, and clinical evidence. The unexpected discovery of the anticancer properties of these drugs has ignited interest in the repurposing of other psychiatric drugs to combat brain cancer. In this review, we synthesize recent progress in understanding the potential molecular mechanisms underlying the brain cancer–killing activities of representative psychiatric drugs. We also identify key limitations in the repurposing of these medications that must be overcome to enhance our ability to successfully prevent and treat brain cancer, especially in the most vulnerable groups of patients, such as children and adolescents, pregnant women, and those with unfavorable genetic variants. Moreover, we propose perspectives that may guide future research and provide long-awaited new hope to patients with brain cancer and their families.

Keywords: Psychiatric drug, brain cancer, Glioblastoma Multiforme, Psychiatric disorder, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Depression

Received: 07 Apr 2019; Accepted: 30 Sep 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Zhuo, Xun, Hou, Ji, Lin, Tian, Zheng, Chen, Liu, Chen and Wang. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mx. Chuanjun Zhuo, Tianjin Anding Hospital, Tianjin, China,