Apigenin Demonstrates Great Promise As A Natural Molecule for Cancer Prevention

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Apigenin is a flavonoid belonging to the structural class called flavones.  It is chemically known as 4’, 5’, 7-trihydroxyflavone. 

Apigenin is present in many fruits, vegetables and herbs, as follows:

    • Fruits
      • Oranges
      • Grapefruit
    • Vegetables
      • Kale
      • Lettuce (iceberg)
      • Licorice
      • Onions
      • Rutabaga
      • Cabbage
      • Celery
      • Celery Seeds
      • Globe Artichoke
      • Wheat sprouts
    • Herbs
      • Basil
      • Holy Basil
      • Chamomile
      • Feverfew
      • Balm
      • Oregano
      • Parsley
      • Peppermint
      • Perilla
      • Thyme

The highest source of apigenin is found in parsley and chamomile.

The dried flowers from Matricaria chamomilla (chamomile) contains a large quantity of apigenin, with an estimate of as much as 68% apigenin of total flavanoids.  2 

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Figure 1:  Chamomile flowers (dried)

Parsley has the largest content of Apigenin than any other vegetable, fruit or herb.  Dried parsely has considerably more apigenin content than fresh parsley:

  • Parsley (fresh)    302.0 mg per 100 grams
  • Parsley (dried)    13,506.2  mg per 100 grams *

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Figure 2:  Parsley (dried)

Apigenin May Assist in the Prevention of Cancer

Apigenin has been shown to possess remarkable anti-carcinogenic properties.   3  There has been significant progress in studying the biological effects of apigenin at cellular and molecular levels as a chemopreventive agent.  4  

There are a number of biological effects of apigenin in numerous mammalian systems in vitro as well as in vivo, due to its  low intrinsic toxicity and because of its striking effects on normal versus cancer cells.  5    

The exact mechanism of apigenin is still being researched, but the current research demonstrates that apigenin affects several critical pathways and/or targets:

  • apigenin induces apoptosis through different cellular signaling transduction pathways:
    • NFκB  6 
    • p53   7 
    • MAPK   8 
    • PI3K/Akt   9  10  
  • apigenin has been shown to decrease tumor formation by blocking COX-2 from functioning normally  11 
  • apigenin is a strong inhibitor of ornithine decarboxylase, an enzyme that plays a major role in tumor promotion  12 
  • apigenin has been shown to increase the intracellular concentration of glutathione, enhancing the endogenous defense against oxidative stress  13 
  • apigenin blocks GLUT-1, which is elevated in head and neck cancers  14
  • apigenin inhibited enzymes that produce androgens  15  
  • apigenin suppressed tumor growth in PLC cells  16 
  • apigenin has also been shown to inhibit benzo[a]pyrene and 2-aminoanthracene-induced bacterial mutagenesis  17
  • apigenin suppresses LPS-induced cyclooxygenase-2 and nitric oxide synthase-2 activity  18 
  • apigenin treatment resulted in suppression of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)  19 
  • apigenin has been shown to inhibit the expression of casein kinase (CK)-2 in both human prostate and breast cancer cells  20 
  • apigenin has shown promise in inhibiting tumor cell invasion and metastases by regulating protease production  21 
  • exposure of endothelial cells to apigenin results in suppression of the expression of VEGF  22
  • apigenin has also been shown to inhibit the expression of HIF-1α and VEGF via the PI3K/Akt/p70S6K1 and HDM2/p53 pathways in human ovarian cancer cells  23

The Table below lists the potential targets of apigenin in various human cancers:

Apigenin as a Potential Target in Various Human Cancers

CancersReference
Adrenal cancer1
Breast cancer2
Cervical cancer3
Colon cancer4
Hematologic cancer (leukemia)5
Liver cancer6
Lung cancer7
Neuroblstoma8
Ovarian cancer9
Prostate cancer10
Skin cancer11
Stomach cancer12
Thyroid cancer13

Resources:

Swanson Health Products – Apigenin

Swanson Health Products – Chamomile Flower Extract

Parsley (dried flakes)