Anti-carcinogenic effects of the flavonoid luteolin

Author(s): Seelinger G, Merfort I, Wölfle U, Schempp CM


Luteolin is a flavonoid which is part of our daily nutrition in relatively low amounts (less than 1 mg/day). Nevertheless, some epidemiological studies suggest an inverse correlation between luteolin intake and the risk of some cancer types. Luteolin displays specific anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic effects, which can only partly be explained by its anti-oxidant and free radical scavenging capacities. Luteolin can delay or block the development of cancer cells in vitro and in vivo by protection from carcinogenic stimuli, by inhibition of tumor cell proliferation, by induction of cell cycle arrest and by induction of apoptosis via intrinsic and extrinsic signaling pathways. When compared to other flavonoids, luteolin was usually among the most effective ones, inhibiting tumor cell proliferation with IC(50) values between 3 and 50 microM in vitro and in vivo by 5 to 10 mg/kg i.p., intragastric application of 0.1-0.3 mg/kg/d, or as food additive in concentrations of 50 to 200 ppm. Luteolin has been shown to penetrate into human skin, making it also a candidate for the prevention and treatment of skin cancer.

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