Honokiol, an Active Compound of Magnolia Plant, Inhibits Growth, and Progression of Cancers of Different Organs

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2016:928:245-265. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-41334-1_11.


Honokiol (C18H18O2) is a biphenolic natural product isolated from the bark and leaves of Magnolia plant spp. During the last decade or more, honokiol has been extensively studied for its beneficial effect against several diseases. Investigations have demonstrated that honokiol possesses anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, anti-angiogenic as well as inhibitory effect on malignant transformation of papillomas to carcinomas in vitro and in vivo animal models without any appreciable toxicity. Honokiol affects multiple signaling pathways, molecular and cellular targets including nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB), STAT3, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), cell survival signaling, cell cycle, cyclooxygenase and other inflammatory mediators, etc. Its chemopreventive and/or therapeutic effects have been tested against chronic diseases, such as cancers of different organs. In this chapter, we describe and discuss briefly the effect of honokiol against cancers of different organs, such as melanoma, non-melanoma, lung, prostate, breast, head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, urinary bladder cancer, gastric cancer, and neuroblastoma, etc. and describe its mechanism of action including various molecular and cellular targets. Although more rigorous in vivo studies are still needed, however it is expected that therapeutic effects and activities of honokiol may help in the development and designing of clinical trials against chronic diseases in human subjects.

Keywords: Cancer of different organs; Cell cycle regulation; Honokiol; Inflammatory mediators; Tumor cell migration; Ultraviolet radiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology*
  • Biphenyl Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Biphenyl Compounds / therapeutic use
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Lignans / pharmacology*
  • Lignans / therapeutic use
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Ultraviolet Rays


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Biphenyl Compounds
  • Lignans
  • honokiol