Farnesol, an acyclic sesquiterpene alcohol, is predominantly found in essential oils of various plants in nature. It has been reported to exhibit anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects, and also alleviate allergic asthma, gliosis, and edema. In numerous tumor cell lines, farnesol can modulate various tumorigenic proteins and/or modulates diverse signal transduction cascades. It can also induce apoptosis and downregulate cell proliferation, angiogenesis, and cell survival. To exert its anti-inflammatory/anti-oncogenic effects, farnesol can modulate Ras protein and nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells activation to downregulate the expression of various inflammatory mediators such as cyclooxygenase-2, inducible nitric oxide synthase, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and interleukin-6. In this review, we describe the potential mechanisms of action underlying the therapeutic effects of farnesol against cancers and inflammatory disorders. Furthermore, these findings support the clinical development of farnesol as a potential pharmacological agent in clinical studies.
Keywords: apoptosis; cancer; farnesol; inflammation.