Garcinol (camboginol) from the fruit rind of Guttiferae species shows anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties, but the underlying molecular mechanisms are unclear. Here we show that garcinol potently interferes with 5-lipoxygenase (EC 184.108.40.206) and microsomal prostaglandin (PG)E2 synthase (mPGES)-1 (EC 220.127.116.11), enzymes that play pivotal roles in inflammation and tumorigenesis. In cell-free assays, garcinol inhibited the activity of purified 5-lipoxygenase and blocked the mPGES-1-mediated conversion of PGH2 to PGE2 with IC50 values of 0.1 and 0.3 microM, respectively. Garcinol suppressed 5-lipoxygenase product formation also in intact human neutrophils and reduced PGE2 formation in interleukin-1beta-stimulated A549 human lung carcinoma cells as well as in human whole blood stimulated by lipopolysaccharide. Moreover, garcinol interfered with isolated cyclooxygenase (COX)-1 (EC 18.104.22.168, IC50 = 12 microM) and with the formation of COX-1-derived 12(S)-hydroxy-5-cis-8,10-trans-heptadecatrienoic acid and thromboxane B2 in human platelets. In contrast, neither Ca2+-ionophore (A23187)-induced arachidonic acid release in neutrophils nor COX-2 activity in A549 cells or whole blood, measured as formation of 6-keto PGF1alpha, or isolated human recombinant COX-2 were significantly affected by garcinol (< or = 30 microM). Together, the high potency of garcinol to selectively suppress PGE2 synthesis and 5-lipoxygenase product formation provides a molecular basis for the anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic effects of garcinol and rationalizes its therapeutic use.