The Biological Activities of Oleocanthal from a Molecular Perspective

Nutrients. 2018 May 6;10(5):570. doi: 10.3390/nu10050570.


Oleocanthal is a minor constituent of olive oil with strong anti-inflammatory activities. Since the pathogenesis of many chronic diseases involves inflammatory and oxidative components, oleocanthal is a promising agent to prevent these conditions. This review aimed to summarise the current beneficial health effects of oleocanthal and the molecular basis of its biological actions. The anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, antimicrobial, anticancer and neuroprotective activities of oleocanthal have been examined by previous studies. Of these, studies on the anticancer effects have been the most extensive. Oleocanthal was reported to suppress melanoma, breast, liver, and colon cancer cells. Neurological studies focused on the effects of oleocanthal against Alzheimer’s disease. Oleocanthal improved clearance of the amyloid beta protein from neurons and reduced the inflammation of astrocytes. Despite the positive results, validation of the biological effects of oleocanthal in animal disease models is limited and should be emphasized in the future. As a conclusion, oleocanthal may act together with other bioactive compounds in olive oil to achieve its therapeutic potential. The use of oleocanthal alone as a single therapeutic measure awaits validation from future studies.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; antioxidant; cancer; inflammation; neuroprotection; oleocanthal; olive.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aldehydes / pharmacology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Astrocytes / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cyclopentane Monoterpenes
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Olive Oil / pharmacology
  • Phenols / pharmacology*


  • Aldehydes
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Cyclopentane Monoterpenes
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Olive Oil
  • Phenols
  • oleocanthal