Chemoprevention and therapy of cancer by d-limonene

Crit Rev Oncog. 1994;5(1):1-22. doi: 10.1615/critrevoncog.v5.i1.10.


The naturally occurring monoterpene d-limonene has chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic activity against many rodent solid tumor types. The chemopreventive activity of limonene during initiation can be attributed to the induction of phase I and phase II enzymes, with resulting carcinogen detoxification. The chemopreventive activity of limonene during promotion/progression may be due in part to inhibition of the posttranslational isoprenylation of growth-controlling small G proteins, such as p21ras. The complete regression of mammary carcinomas by limonene appears to involve tissue redifferentiation. The multiple antitumorigenic effects of limonene are attainable at a high therapeutic ratio, suggesting that limonene and related monoterpenes may be efficacious in the chemoprevention and chemotherapy of human malignancies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Carcinogens / metabolism
  • Cyclohexenes
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Genes, ras
  • Humans
  • Limonene
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Protein Prenylation
  • Rats
  • Terpenes / metabolism
  • Terpenes / pharmacology*
  • Terpenes / therapeutic use


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Carcinogens
  • Cyclohexenes
  • Terpenes
  • Limonene
  • GTP-Binding Proteins