Terpenes have received a great deal of attention in the scientific literature due to complex, synthetically challenging structures and diverse biological activities associated with this class of natural products. Based on the number of C5 isoprene units they are generated from, terpenes are classified as hemi- (C5), mono- (C10), sesqui- (C15), di- (C20), sester- (C25), tri (C30), and tetraterpenes (C40). Among these, sesterterpenes and their derivatives known as sesterterpenoids, are ubiquitous secondary metabolites in fungi, marine organisms, and plants. Their structural diversity encompasses carbotricyclic ophiobolanes, polycyclic anthracenones, polycyclic furan-2-ones, and polycyclic hydroquinones, among many other carbon skeletons. Furthermore, many of them possess promising biological activities including cytotoxicity and the associated potential as anticancer agents. This review discusses the natural sources that produce sesterterpenoids, provides sesterterpenoid names and their chemical structures, biological properties with the focus on anticancer activities and literature references associated with these metabolites. A critical summary of the potential of various sesterterpenoids as anticancer agents concludes the review.
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