Antitumor and Cancer-preventative Function of Fucoxanthin: A Marine Carotenoid

Anticancer Res. 2017 Apr;37(4):1557-1562. doi: 10.21873/anticanres.11484.


Fucoxanthin is a marine carotenoid mainly found in brown seaweeds. Its antitumor and cancer-preventative function has been extensively investigated. Investigations have indicated that fucoxanthin and its metabolite fucoxanthinol induce G1 cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis in various cell lines and can inhibit cancer development in animal models. It is imperative that the underlying mechanism of action of fucoxanthin be elucidated in order to facilitate the development of cancer-prevention strategies in humans. Key molecules that require consideration include mitogen-activated protein kinase, growth arrest and DNA damage-inducible 45, AP-1 transcription factor, nuclear factor-kappa B and several others, including cell cycle-related molecules for G1 cell-cycle arrest and the B cell lymphoma-2 family, X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis, cellular inhibitor of apoptosis protein and AKT serine/threonine kinase/phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase for apoptosis. In this review, the mechanisms by which fucoxanthin exerts its antitumor and cancer-preventative action in cell lines and mouse models is discussed, in addition to the potential use of fucoxanthin as a promising compound for cancer prevention.

Keywords: Fucoxanthin; antitumor activity; cancer-preventative activity; carotenoid; review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Carotenoids / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Marine Biology*
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Xanthophylls / therapeutic use*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Xanthophylls
  • fucoxanthin
  • Carotenoids