Luteolin Demonstrates Remarkable Promise For Cancer Prevention


Luteolin is a flavone bioflavonoid in the class of flavonoids.  In nature luteolin normally occurs as glycosides containing luteoiln.   

Certain epidemiological studies suggest that dietary intake of flavonoids is inversely associated with risk of lung, prostate, stomach, and breast cancer in humans. 1  

Flavonoids are known as blocking agents which act to block several stages in the progression of carcinogenesis.  These stages include:   2

  • angiogenesis
  • cangiogenesis
  • invasion
  • metastasis

Luteolin has the ability to interfere with almost all of the characteristics of cancer cells.  It is also recognized as an anti-inflammatory which may explain its link to its anticancer function. 

Luteolin sensitizes cancer cells to therapeutic-induced cytotoxicity through suppressing cell survival pathways such as: 3

  • Phosphatidylinositol 3′-kinase (PI3K)/Akt
  • Nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB)
  • X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP)
  • Stimulating apoptosis pathways that induce the tumor suppressor p53.   

The overall anticancer properties of luteolin are associated with:

  • Crossing the blood-brain barrier   4
  • Induces apoptotic cell death 5
  • Inhibits the metabolism of carcinogens that generates active mutagens in liver microsomes   6
  • Inhibits human cytochrome P450 (CYP) 1 family enzymes such as CYP1A1, CYP1A2, and CYP1B1 7
  • Inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells 8
  • Inhibits cell cycle progression   9
  • Inhibits tumor angiogenesis 10
  • Suppresses production and secretion of cytokines such as TNFα and IL-6   11  
Dietary Sources of Luteolin
  • Apple skins
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Chamomile tea
  • Chrysanthemum flowers
  • Common sage, fresh
  • Common thyme, fresh
  • Dandelion
  • Globe artichoke, heads, raw
  • Green pepper
  • Lemon verbena, dried
  • Lentils, whole, raw
  • Mexican oregano, dried
  • Olive [Black], raw
  • Olive [Green], raw
  • Olive, oil, extra virgin
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Peppermint
  • Perilla
  • Pistachio, dehulled
  • Rosemary, dried
  • Thyme

Images of Foods, Herbs and Spices that contain Luteolin

  • Black Olives

The Table below lists specific cancers that have been studied using luteolin:

Chemoprevention with Luteolin

Bladder cancer
Luteolin Induces N-Acetylation and DNA Adduct of 2-Aminofluorene Accompanying N-Acetyltransferase Activity and Gene Expression in Human Bladder Cancer T24 Cell Line1
Breast cancer
Inhibition of 17β-Estradiol Formation by Isoflavonoids and Flavonoids in Cultured JEG-3 Cells: Search for Aromatase-Targeting Dietary Compounds2
Colon cancer
We studied the effects of the dietary phytochemicals quercetin (Q), luteolin (L) and ursolic acid (UA) on cell proliferation and apoptosis in two human colorectal carcinoma (CRC) derived cell lines. Our findings show that these natural compounds have antiproliferative and proapoptotic effects and simultaneously seem to act on KRAS and PI3K but not on BRAF. These results shed light on the molecular mechanisms of action of Q, L and UA and emphasize the potential of dietary choices for the control of CRC progression.3
Decreased expression of these key antiapoptotic proteins could contribute to the increase in p53-independent apoptosis that was observed in HT-29 cells. We demonstrate that luteolin promotes both cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in the HT-29 colon cancer cell line, providing insight about the mechanisms underlying its antitumorigenic activities.4
From the results, we suggested that the structure of luteolin contributes to its potent in inducing apoptosis in HL-60 cells, and the mitochondrial pathway might play an important role in the luteolin-induced apoptosis. The induction of apoptosis by luteolin may offer a pivotal mechanism for its cancertherapeutic and chemopreventive action.5
Liver cancer
Luteolin significantly inhibited the growth of the tumors in a dosage-dependent manner. These data suggested that luteolin targeted STAT3 through dual pathways-the ubiquitin-dependent degradation in Tyr(705)-phosphorylated STAT3 and the gradual down-regulation in Ser(727)-phosphorylated STAT3 through inactivation of CDK5, thereby triggering apoptosis via up-regulation in Fas/CD95.6
Lung cancer
Here we examined the anti-tumorigenic role of luteolin in a commonly used lung cancer cell line. Luteolin inhibited the growth of A549 cells by inducing G1 phase cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. Furthermore, stress fiber assembly and cell migration in A549 cells was markedly suppressed by luteolin.7
Ovarian cancer
These data suggest that dietary intake of certain flavonoids may reduce ovarian cancer risk, although additional prospective studies are needed to further evaluate this association. If confirmed, these results would provide an important target for ovarian cancer prevention.8
Prostate cancer
Treatment of PC-3 cell with luteolin for 24h caused a 4-fold stimulation of c-Fos gene expression, significant inhibition (p9
Results of in vivo tumor growth assay indicated that luteolin inhibited PC-3 tumor growth. Immunoblotting of the extracts of tumor tissues showed that luteolin inhibited IGF-1R/AKT signaling. Our results provide a new insight into the mechanisms that luteolin is against cancer cells.10
Thyroid cancer
Among the flavonoids tested, apigenin and luteolin are the most potent inhibitors of these cell lines with IC50 (concentration at which cell proliferation was inhibited by 50%) values ranging from 21.7 microM to 32.1 microM. 11

Cover Photo of Mexican Oregano (Poliomintha longiflora)

Dried Mexican Oregano has a high content of luteolin at 56.33 mg/100 g FW