Current Insights into the Biological Action of Squalene

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2018 Jun 8;e1800136. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201800136. Online ahead of print.


Squalene is a triterpenic compound found in a large number of plants and other sources with a long tradition of research since it was first reported in 1926. Herein a systematic review of studies concerning squalene published in the last 8 years is presented. These studies have provided further support for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-atherosclerotic properties in vivo and in vitro. Moreover, an antineoplastic effect in nutrigenetic-type treatments, which depends on the failing metabolic pathway of tumors, has also been reported. The bioavailability of squalene in cell cultures, animal models, and in humans has been well established, and further progress has been made in regard to the intracellular transport of this lipophilic molecule. Squalene accumulates in the liver and decreases hepatic cholesterol and triglycerides, with these actions being exerted via a complex network of changes in gene expression at both transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels. Its presence in different biological fluids has also been studied. The combination of squalene with other bioactive compounds has been shown to enhance its pleiotropic properties and might lead to the formulation of functional foods and nutraceuticals to control oxidative stress and, therefore, numerous age-related diseases in human and veterinary medicine.

Keywords: antioxidants; gene expression; olive oil; shark liver oil; squalene.

Publication types

  • Review