Alpha terpineol: a potential anticancer agent which acts through suppressing NF-kappaB signalling

Anticancer Res. 2010 Jun;30(6):1911-9.


Background: Alpha terpineol is a bioactive component of Salvia libanotica essential oil extract and has shown antitumour activity.

Materials and methods: The cytotoxicity of alpha terpineol towards different tumour cell lines was evaluated in vitro. Mechanistic characterization was performed using analysis of drug activity in a cell line panel and drug-induced gene expression perturbation using the connectivity map approach.

Results: The small cell lung carcinoma was the cell line most sensitive to alpha terpineol. The results proposed alpha terpineol as an NF-kappaB inhibitor, which was confirmed by the observed dose-dependent inhibition of NF-kappaB translocation and activity using two NF-kappaB assays, and by the down-regulation of the expression of several NF-kappaB-related genes such as IL-1 beta and IL1R1.

Conclusion: The results suggest that alpha terpineol inhibits the growth of tumour cells through a mechanism that involves inhibition of the NF-kappaB pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cyclohexane Monoterpenes
  • Cyclohexenes / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Monoterpenes / pharmacology*
  • NF-kappa B / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Cyclohexane Monoterpenes
  • Cyclohexenes
  • Monoterpenes
  • NF-kappa B
  • alpha-terpineol