BackgroundCancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are activated fibroblasts associated with cancer. They have an important role in tumor growth and metastasis. Artemisinin (ART) is a sesquiterpene lactone extracted from Chinese herb qinghao, and artemether (ARM), artesunate (ARS) and dihydroartemisinin (DHA) were synthesized derivatives of artemisinin, which also have anti-malarial and anti-cancer effects such as artemisinin.MethodsIn this study, we investigated the in-vitro and in-vivo effects of artemisinin derivatives on inactivating cancer-associated fibroblasts and uncovered its underlying mechanism.ResultsWe demonstrated that ARS and DHA could revert L-929-CAFs and CAFs from activated to inactivated state in vitro. Mechanically, ARS and DHA could suppress TGF-β signaling to inhibit activation of L-929-CAFs and CAFs, and decreased interaction between tumor and tumor microenvironment. The results showed that ARS and DHA could suppress CAFs-induced breast cancer growth and metastasis in the orthotopic model. Conformably, ARS and DHA suppressed TGF-β signaling to inactivate cancer-associated fibroblasts and inhibit cancer metastasis in vivo.ConclusionsArtemisinin derivatives are potential therapeutic agents for the treatment of breast cancer.