Anti-tumor promoting potential of selected spice ingredients with antioxidative and anti-inflammatory activities: a short review

Food Chem Toxicol. 2002 Aug;40(8):1091-7. doi: 10.1016/s0278-6915(02)00037-6.


A wide variety of phenolic substances derived from spice possess potent antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic activities. Examples are curcumin, a yellow colouring agent, contained in turmeric (Curcuma longa L., Zingiberaceae), [6]-gingerol, a pungent ingredient present in ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe, Zingiberaceae) and capsaicin, a principal pungent principle of hot chili pepper (Capsicum annuum L, Solanaceae). The chemopreventive effects exerted by these phytochemicals are often associated with their antioxidative and anti-inflammatory activities. Cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX-2) has been recognized as a molecular target of many chemopreventive as well as anti-inflammatory agents. Recent studies have shown that COX-2 is regulated by the eukaryotic transcription factor NF-kappaB. This short review summarizes the molecular mechanisms underlying chemopreventive effects of the aforementioned spice ingredients in terms of their effects on intracellular signaling cascades, particularly those involving NF-kappaB and mitogen-activated protein kinases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antimutagenic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Capsaicin / pharmacology
  • Catechols
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Curcumin / pharmacology
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • Fatty Alcohols / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Mutagens / pharmacology
  • NF-kappa B / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases / metabolism
  • Spices* / analysis


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Antimutagenic Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Catechols
  • Fatty Alcohols
  • Isoenzymes
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Mutagens
  • NF-kappa B
  • gingerol
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • PTGS2 protein, human
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases
  • Curcumin
  • Capsaicin