Patchouli alcohol, an essential oil of Pogostemon cablin, exhibits anti-tumorigenic activity in human colorectal cancer cells

Int Immunopharmacol. 2013 Jun;16(2):184-90. doi: 10.1016/j.intimp.2013.04.006. Epub 2013 Apr 17.


Patchouli alcohol (PA) is one of the important compounds isolated from the essential oil of Pogostemon cablin (patchouli). PA has neuroprotective, anti-influenza and anti-inflammatory activities. However, anti-cancer activity of PA has not been studied so far. We performed in vitro study to investigate whether PA affects proliferation and apoptosis of human colorectal cancer cells, and to define potential molecular mechanisms. PA suppressed cell growth and induced apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner in human colorectal cancer cells (HCT116, SW480). In addition, PA decreased cell growth in MCF7, BxPC3, PC3, and HUVEC cells. Exposure of PA to HCT116 and SW480 cells activated p21 expression and suppressed the expressions of cyclin D1 and cyclin-dependent kinase 4 (CDK4) in a dose-dependent manner. In addition, PA attenuated the expressions of HDAC2 (histone deacetylase 2) and c-myc, and HDAC enzyme activity. We also observed that PA induced the transcriptional activity of NF-κB through an increase of nuclear translocation of p65. These findings suggest that PA exerts an anti-cancer activity by decreasing cell growth and increasing apoptosis in human colorectal cancer cells. The proposed mechanisms include the inhibition of HDAC2 expression and HDAC enzyme activity, and subsequent downregulation of c-myc and activation of NF-κB pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Cyclin D1 / metabolism
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 4 / metabolism
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21 / metabolism
  • Histone Deacetylase 2 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Histone Deacetylase 2 / metabolism
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Histone Deacetylases / metabolism
  • Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells / drug effects
  • Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lamiaceae*
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / metabolism
  • Sesquiterpenes / pharmacology*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • CDKN1A protein, human
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • MYC protein, human
  • NF-kappa B
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • Cyclin D1
  • CDK4 protein, human
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 4
  • HDAC2 protein, human
  • Histone Deacetylase 2
  • Histone Deacetylases
  • patchouli alcohol