Thursday, 11 August 2016

The potential role of boswellic acids in cancer prevention and treatment

Volume 377, Issue 1, 10 July 2016, Pages 74–86


Summarizes the pleiotropic anticancer effects of boswellic acid and its derivatives in diverse cancers.
Highlights the key clinical studies carried out with boswellic acid in cancer patients.
Discusses the future aspects of Boswellic acids in cancer prevention and treatment.


Despite the extensive research carried out in the field of cancer therapeutics, cancer is one of the most dreadful diseases in the world with no definitive treatment to date. The key attributes responsible for this are the various limiting factors associated with conventional chemotherapeutics that primarily include adverse side-effects and development of chemoresistance. Hence, there is an utter need to find compounds that are highly safe and efficacious for the prevention and treatment of cancer. Boswellic acid, a group of pentacyclic compounds, seems to be promising enough due to its inherent anti-cancerous properties. Considering this perspective, the present review highlights the established studies related to the anti-cancer potential of boswellic acid against different cancer types. The molecular mechanisms underlying the targets of boswellic acid that are accountable for its potent anti-cancer effect are also discussed. Overall, this review projects the pieces of evidence that reveal the potential of boswellic acid as a suitable candidate that can be appropriately developed and designed into a promising anti-cancer drug.


  • Boswellic acid;
  • Cancer;
  • Molecular targets;
  • Transcription factors


  • AKBA, 3-acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic acid;
  • APC, activated protein C;
  • AR, androgen receptor;
  • BA, beta-boswellic acid;
  • BAX, BCL2-associated x protein;
  • BC-4, boswellic acid acetate;
  • BCDD, butyl 2-cyano-3, 11-dioxours-1, 12-dien-24-oate;
  • Bcl-2, B-cell lymphoma 2;
  • Bcl-xL, B-cell lymphoma-extra large;
  • BE, Boswellin;
  • BOBA, 3-α-butyryloxy-β-boswellic acid;
  • BSE, Boswellia serrata extracts;
  • C/EBP-α, CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein alpha;
  • CDK, cyclin-dependent kinase;
  • CEMB, cyano enone of methyl boswellates;
  • C-KβBA, 3-cinnamoyl-11-keto-β-boswellic acid;
  • COX, cyclooxygenase;
  • CXCR, chemokine, cxc motif, receptor;
  • DMBA, 7, 12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene;
  • DNA, deoxyribonucleic acid;
  • DR, death receptor;
  • EGR, extract from gum resin;
  • Erk, extracellular signal-regulated kinase;
  • HLE, human leucocyte elastase;
  • HSC, hepatic stellate cells;
  • IKK, inhibitor of kappaB kinase;
  • IL, interleukin;
  • K-BA, keto-beta-boswellic acid;
  • KMT, Korean medicine therapy;
  • LO, lipooxygenase;
  • LPS, lipopolysaccharide;
  • MAPK, mitogen activated protein kinase;
  • Mcl-1, myeloid leukemia cell differentiation protein 1;
  • MCP, monocyte chemotactic protein;
  • MIP, macrophage inflammatory protein;
  • MM, multiple myeloma;
  • MMP, matrix metalloproteinase;
  • mTOR, mammalian target of rapamycin;
  • NF-kB, nuclear factor kappa beta;
  • PARP, poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase;
  • PDGF, platelet-derived growth factor;
  • PDGFR, platelet-derived growth factor receptor;
  • PI3K, phosphatidylinositide 3-kinases;
  • PKBA, propionyloxy derivative of 11-keto-β-boswellic acid;
  • PMNL, polymorphonuclear leucocyte;
  • POBA, 3-α-propionyloxy-β-boswellic acid;
  • PPAR-γ, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma;
  • SAMD14, sterile alpha motif domain containing 14;
  • SHP-1, Src homology region 2 domain-containing phosphatase 1;
  • SMPD3, sphingomyelin phosphodiesterase 3;
  • Sp1, specificity protein 1;
  • STAT-3, signal transducer and activator of transcription 3;
  • TNF, tumor necrosis factor;
  • TPA, 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate;
  • VEGF, vascular endothelial growth factor;
  • VEGFR2, vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2
Corresponding author. Tel.: +65 65163267; fax: +65 68737690.
Corresponding author. Tel.: +91 361 258 2231; fax: +91 361 258 2249.