An up-date of olive oil phenols in inflammation and cancer: molecular mechanisms and clinical implications

Curr Med Chem. 2013;20(37):4758-76. doi: 10.2174/09298673113209990159.


Olive oil (OO), the main fatty component of the Mediterranean diet, exhibits numerous biological functions which are beneficial for the state of health. In addition to monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) evidences have accumulated on the favorable properties of its minor though highly bioactive components, particularly the phenolic compounds, which have shown a broad spectrum of bioactive properties, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects both associated with the origin of the main chronic diseases. Additional studies have demonstrated that the health effects of olive oil polyphenols have been also associated with their, neuroprotective, antiaging and antiatherogenic effects. On the other hand, because of their ability to modulate cell death, olive polyphenols have been proposed as chemopreventive and therapeutic agents. Thus, the purpose of this article is to review the chemistry, bioavailability and pharmacokinetic characteristics of OO polyphenols, in addition to provide the reader an up-date of their putative antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activities as well as the plausible action mechanisms involved.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Infective Agents / metabolism
  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Agents / toxicity
  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy*
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neuroprotective Agents / chemistry
  • Neuroprotective Agents / metabolism
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Olive Oil
  • Plant Oils / chemistry*
  • Polyphenols / chemistry
  • Polyphenols / metabolism
  • Polyphenols / therapeutic use*


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Olive Oil
  • Plant Oils
  • Polyphenols