Potential Anticancer Properties of Osthol: A Comprehensive Mechanistic Review

Nutrients. 2018 Jan 3;10(1):36. doi: 10.3390/nu10010036.


Cancer is caused by uncontrolled cell proliferation which has the potential to occur in different tissues and spread into surrounding and distant tissues. Despite the current advances in the field of anticancer agents, rapidly developing resistance against different chemotherapeutic drugs and significantly higher off-target effects cause millions of deaths every year. Osthol is a natural coumarin isolated from Apiaceaous plants which has demonstrated several pharmacological effects, such as antineoplastic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. We have attempted to summarize up-to-date information related to pharmacological effects and molecular mechanisms of osthol as a lead compound in managing malignancies. Electronic databases, including PubMed, Cochrane library, ScienceDirect and Scopus were searched for in vitro, in vivo and clinical studies on anticancer effects of osthol. Osthol exerts remarkable anticancer properties by suppressing cancer cell growth and induction of apoptosis. Osthol's protective and therapeutic effects have been observed in different cancers, including ovarian, cervical, colon and prostate cancers as well as chronic myeloid leukemia, lung adenocarcinoma, glioma, hepatocellular, glioblastoma, renal and invasive mammary carcinoma. A large body of evidence demonstrates that osthol regulates apoptosis, proliferation and invasion in different types of malignant cells which are mediated by multiple signal transduction cascades. In this review, we set spotlights on various pathways which are targeted by osthol in different cancers to inhibit cancer development and progression.

Keywords: apoptosis; cancer; malignancies; natural product; osthol; phytochemicals.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Coumarins / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Coumarins
  • osthol