Potential Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Cancer Properties of Farnesol

Molecules. 2018 Oct 31;23(11):2827. doi: 10.3390/molecules23112827.


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.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 / genetics
  • Farnesol / chemistry
  • Farnesol / therapeutic use*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy*
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II / genetics
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / genetics
  • ras Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • ras Proteins / chemistry


  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Farnesol
  • NOS2 protein, human
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • ras Proteins