The antitumor effects of geraniol: Modulation of cancer hallmark pathways (Review)

Int J Oncol. 2016 May;48(5):1772-82. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2016.3427. Epub 2016 Mar 9.


Geraniol is a dietary monoterpene alcohol that is found in the essential oils of aromatic plants. To date, experimental evidence supports the therapeutic or preventive effects of geraniol on different types of cancer, such as breast, lung, colon, prostate, pancreatic, and hepatic cancer, and has revealed the mechanistic basis for its pharmacological actions. In addition, geraniol sensitizes tumor cells to commonly used chemotherapy agents. Geraniol controls a variety of signaling molecules and pathways that represent tumor hallmarks; these actions of geraniol constrain the ability of tumor cells to acquire adaptive resistance against anticancer drugs. In the present review, we emphasize that geraniol is a promising compound or chemical moiety for the development of a safe and effective multi-targeted anticancer agent. We summarize the current knowledge of the effects of geraniol on target molecules and pathways in cancer cells. Our review provides novel insight into the challenges and perspectives with regard to geraniol research and to its application in future clinical investigation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acyclic Monoterpenes
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Terpenes / pharmacology*
  • Terpenes / therapeutic use


  • Acyclic Monoterpenes
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Terpenes
  • geraniol