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Fucoxanthin: A Marine Carotenoid Exerting Anti-Cancer Effects by Affecting Multiple Mechanisms

Faculty of Fisheries Sciences, Hokkaido University, 3-1-1, Minato Cho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 041-8611, Japan
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Mar. Drugs 2013, 11(12), 5130-5147;
Received: 10 October 2013 / Revised: 27 November 2013 / Accepted: 3 December 2013 / Published: 16 December 2013
(This article belongs to the Collection Marine Compounds and Cancer)
PDF [348 KB, uploaded 24 February 2015]


Fucoxanthin is a marine carotenoid exhibiting several health benefits. The anti-cancer effect of fucoxanthin and its deacetylated metabolite, fucoxanthinol, is well documented. In view of its potent anti-carcinogenic activity, the need to understand the underlying mechanisms has gained prominence. Towards achieving this goal, several researchers have carried out studies in various cell lines and in vivo and have deciphered that fucoxanthin exerts its anti-proliferative and cancer preventing influence via different molecules and pathways including the Bcl-2 proteins, MAPK, NFκB, Caspases, GADD45, and several other molecules that are involved in either cell cycle arrest, apoptosis, or metastasis. Thus, in addition to decreasing the frequency of occurrence and growth of tumours, fucoxanthin has a cytotoxic effect on cancer cells. Some studies show that this effect is selective, i.e., fucoxanthin has the capability to target cancer cells only, leaving normal physiological cells unaffected/less affected. Hence, fucoxanthin and its metabolites show great promise as chemotherapeutic agents in cancer. View Full-Text
Keywords: anti-proliferative; apoptosis; carotenoid; cell cycle arrest; fucoxanthin anti-proliferative; apoptosis; carotenoid; cell cycle arrest; fucoxanthin

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Kumar, S.R.; Hosokawa, M.; Miyashita, K. Fucoxanthin: A Marine Carotenoid Exerting Anti-Cancer Effects by Affecting Multiple Mechanisms. Mar. Drugs 2013, 11, 5130-5147.

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