Anticancer Activity of Essential Oils: Targeting of Protein Networks in Cancer Cells

  • Aras, Aliye (Department of Botany, Faculty of Science, Istanbul University) ;
  • Iqbal, Muhammed Javed (Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Gujrat) ;
  • Naqvi, Syed Kamran-Ul-Hassan (COMSATS Institute of Information Technology) ;
  • Gercek, Yusuf Can (Department of Botany, Faculty of Science, Istanbul University) ;
  • Boztas, Kadir (Department of Botany, Faculty of Science, Istanbul University) ;
  • Gasparri, Maria Luisa (Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Sapienza University of Rome) ;
  • Shatynska-Mytsyk, Iryna (Diagnostic Imaging and Radiation Therapy Department, Lviv National Medical University) ;
  • Fayyaz, Sundas (Laboratory for Translational Oncology and Personalized Medicine, Rashid Latif Medical College) ;
  • Farooqi, Ammad Ahmad (Laboratory for Translational Oncology and Personalized Medicine, Rashid Latif Medical College)
  • Published : 2014.10.23


Cancer is a multifaceted and genomically complex disease and research over decades has gradually and sequentially shown that essential biological mechanisms including cell cycle arrest and apoptosis are deregulated. The benefits of essential oils from different plants have started to gain appreciation as evidenced by data obtained from cancer cell lines and xenografted mice. Encouraging results obtained from preclinical studies have attracted considerable attention and various phytochemicals have entered into clinical trials.


Essential oils;cancer;apoptosis;signaling


  1. Bayala B, Bassole IH, Gnoula C, et al (2014). Chemical composition, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiproliferative activities of essential oils of plants from burkina faso. PLoS One, 9, 92122.
  2. Bou DD, Lago JH, Figueiredo CR, et al (2013). Chemical composition and cytotoxicity evaluation of essential oil from leaves of Casearia sylvestris, its main compound ${\alpha}$-zingiberene and derivatives. Molecules, 18, 9477-87.
  3. Chen CC, Chen Y, Hsi YT, et al (2013). Chemical constituents and anticancer activity of Curcuma zedoaria roscoe essential oil against non-small cell lung carcinoma cells in vitro and in vivo. J Agric Food Chem, 61, 11418-27.
  4. Chen TC, Cho HY, Wang W, et al (2014). A novel temozolomideperillyl alcohol conjugate exhibits superior activity against breast cancer cells in vitro and intracranial triple-negative tumor growth in vivo. Mol Cancer Ther. 13, 1181-93.
  5. Cho HY, Wang W, Jhaveri N, et al (2014). NEO212, Temozolomide Conjugated to Perillyl Alcohol, is a Novel Drug for Effective Treatment of a Broad Range of Temozolomide-Resistant Gliomas. Mol Cancer Ther, 13, 2004-17.
  6. Jeong JB, Choi J, Lou Z, et al (2013). Patchouli alcohol, an essential oil of Pogostemon cablin, exhibits antitumorigenic activity in human colorectal cancer cells. Int Immunopharmacol, 16, 184-90.
  7. Ding XF, Shen M, Xu LY, et al (2013). 13, 14-bis (cis-3,5-dimethyl-1-piperazinyl)-${\beta}$-elemene, a novel ${\beta}$-elemene derivative, shows potent antitumor activities via inhibition of mTOR in human breast cancer cells. Oncol Lett, 5, 1554-8.
  8. Esmaeili MA, Sonboli A, Mirjalili MH (2014). Oxidative stress protective effect of Dracocephalum multicaule essential oil against human cancer cell line. Nat Prod Res, 28, 848-52.
  9. Ferraz RP, Bomfim DS, Carvalho NC, et al (2013). Cytotoxic effect of leaf essential oil of Lippia gracilis Schauer (Verbenaceae). Phytomedicine, 20, 615-21.
  10. Jia SS, Xi GP, Zhang M, et al (2013). Induction of apoptosis by D-limonene is mediated by inactivation of Akt in LS174T human colon cancer cells. Oncol Rep, 29, 349-54.
  11. Li QQ, Lee RX, Liang H, et al (2013). ${\beta}$-Elemene enhances susceptibility to cisplatin in resistant ovarian carcinoma cells via downregulation of ERCC-1 and XIAP and inactivation of JNK. Int J Oncol, 43, 721-8.
  12. Manjamalai A, Berlin Grace VM (2012). Antioxidant activity of essential oils from Wedelia chinensis (Osbeck) in vitro and in vivo lung cancer bearing C57BL/6 mice. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev, 13, 3065-71.
  13. Manjamalai A, Grace VM (2013). The chemotherapeutic effect of essential oil of Tridax procumbens (Lour) on lung metastasis developed by B16F-10 cell line in C57BL/6 mice. Cancer Invest, 31, 74-82.
  14. Pathania AS, Guru SK, Verma MK, et al (2013). Disruption of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling cascade and induction of apoptosis in HL-60 cells by an essential oil from Monarda citriodora. Food Chem Toxicol, 62, 246-54.
  15. Manjamalai A, Kumar MJ, Grace VM (2012). Essential oil of Tridax procumbens L induces apoptosis and suppresses angiogenesis and lung metastasis of the B16F-10 cell line in C57BL/6 mice. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev, 13, 5887-95.
  16. Manuele MG, Barreiro Arcos ML, Davicino R, et al (2010). Limonene exerts antiproliferative effects and increases nitric oxide levels on a lymphoma cell line by dual mechanism of the ERK pathway: relationship with oxidative stress. Cancer Invest, 28, 135-45.
  17. Ni X, Suhail MM, Yang Q, et al (2012). Frankincense essential oil prepared from hydrodistillation of Boswellia sacra gum resins induces human pancreatic cancer cell death in cultures and in a xenograft murine model. BMC Complement Altern Med, 12, 253.
  18. Quassinti L, Maggi F, Barboni L, et al (2014). Wild celery (Smyrnium olusatrum L.) oil and isofuranodiene induce apoptosis in human colon carcinoma cells. Fitoterapia, 97, 133-41.
  19. Queiroz RM, Takiya CM, Guimaraes LP, et al (2014). Apoptosisinducing effects of melissa officinalis L. essential oil in glioblastoma multiforme cells. Cancer Invest, 32, 226-35.
  20. Rabi T, Bishayee A (2009). d-Limonene sensitizes docetaxelinduced cytotoxicity in human prostate cancer cells: Generation of reactive oxygen species and induction of apoptosis. J Carcinog, 8, 9.
  21. Sakalar C, Yuruk M, Kaya T, et al (2013). Pronounced transcriptional regulation of apoptotic and TNF-NF-kappa-B signaling genes during the course of thymoquinone mediated apoptosis in HeLa cells. Mol Cell Biochem, 383, 243-51.
  22. Tayarani-Najaran Z, Amiri A, Karimi G, et al (2014). Comparative studies of cytotoxic and apoptotic properties of different extracts and the essential oil of Lavandula angustifolia on malignant and normal cells. Nutr Cancer, 66, 424-34.
  23. Saleh AM, Aljada A, Rizvi SA, et al (2014). In vitro cytotoxicity of Artemisia vulgaris L. essential oil is mediated by a mitochondria-dependent apoptosis in HL-60 leukemic cell line. BMC Complement Altern Med, 14, 226.
  24. Savio AL, da Silva GN, de Camargo EA, et al (2014). Cell cycle kinetics, apoptosis rates, DNA damage and TP53 gene expression in bladder cancer cells treated with allyl isothiocyanate (mustard essential oil). Mutat Res Fundam Mol Mech Mutagen, 762, 40-6.
  25. Sundin T, Peffley DM, Hentosh P (2013). Disruption of an hTERT-mTOR-RAPTOR protein complex by a phytochemical perillyl alcohol and rapamycin. Mol Cell Biochem, 375, 97-104.
  26. Wu JG, Peng W, Yi J, et al (2014). Chemical composition, antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcus aureus and a pro-apoptotic effect in SGC-7901 of the essential oil from Toona sinensis (A. Juss.) Roem. leaves. J Ethnopharmacol, 154, 198-205.
  27. Yang GM, Yan R, Wang ZX, et al (2013). Antitumor effects of two extracts from Oxytropis falcata on hepatocellular carcinoma in vitro and in vivo. Chin J Nat Med, 11, 519-24.
  28. Yao CC, Tu YR, Jiang J, et al (2014). ${\beta}$-elemene reverses the drug resistance of lung cancer A549/DDP cells via the mitochondrial apoptosis pathway. Oncol Rep, 31, 2131-8.
  29. Zhu TZ, Li XM, Luo LH, et al (2014). ${\beta}$-Elemene inhibits proliferation through crosstalk between glia maturation factor ${\beta}$ and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 and impairs drug resistance to temozolomide in glioblastoma cells. Mol Med Rep, 10, 1122-8.
  30. Zou K, Tong E, Xu Y, et al (2014). Down regulation of mammalian target of rapamycin decreases HIF-$1{\alpha}$ and survivin expression in anoxic lung adenocarcinoma A549 cell to elemene and/or irradiation. Tumour Biol, 2014 Jun 28.

Cited by

  1. (Apiaceae) Growing in Central Italy vol.14, pp.7, 2017,
  2. Essential Oil and Its Active Constituents on the Proliferation of Human Prostate Cancer vol.16, pp.2, 2017,
  3. Proteomic Identification of eEF1A1 as a Molecular Target of Curcumol for Suppressing Metastasis of MDA-MB-231 Cells pp.1520-5118, 2017,