Research Papers:

This article has been corrected. Correction in: Oncotarget. 2020; 11:2259-2261.

Frankincense essential oil suppresses melanoma cancer through down regulation of Bcl-2/Bax cascade signaling and ameliorates heptotoxicity via phase I and II drug metabolizing enzymes

Faruck L. Hakkim _, Hamid A. Bakshi _, Shabia Khan, Mohamad Nasef, Rabia Farzand, Smitha Sam, Luay Rashan, Mohammed S. Al-Baloshi, Sidgi Syed Anwar Abdo Hasson, Ali Al Jabri, Paul A. McCarron and Murtaza M. Tambuwala _

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Oncotarget. 2019; 10:3472-3490. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.26930

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Faruck L. Hakkim1,6,*, Hamid A. Bakshi2,3,8,*, Shabia Khan3, Mohamad Nasef2, Rabia Farzand4, Smitha Sam5, Luay Rashan1, Mohammed S. Al-Baloshi7, Sidgi Syed Anwar Abdo Hasson7, Ali Al Jabri7, Paul A. McCarron8 and Murtaza M. Tambuwala8

1 Frankincense Biodiversity Unit, Research Center, Dhofar University, Salalah, Oman

2 Department of Pharmacy, School of Applied Sciences, University of Huddersfield, Queensgate, Huddersfield, United Kingdom

3 Department of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, USA

4 Department of Clinical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Hertfordshire, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom

5 Chemotherapy Unit, St. Jude Clinics-Center for Cancer Treatment, Pathanamthitta, Kerala, India

6 Department of Mathematics and Sciences, College of Arts and Applied Sciences, Dhofar University, Salalah, Oman

7 Department of Microbiology and Immunology, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University, Al-Khoud, Muscat, Oman

8 School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science, SAAD Centre for Pharmacy and Diabetes, Ulster University, Coleraine, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

* These authors contributed equally to this work and should be considered as first authors

Correspondence to:

Faruck L. Hakkim,email: [email protected],
[email protected]
Hamid Bakshi,email: [email protected],
[email protected]
Murtaza M. Tambuwala,email: [email protected]

Keywords: melanoma; frankincense; essential oil; apoptosis; tumor remission

Received: September 13, 2018     Accepted: April 03, 2019     Published: May 28, 2019


Melanoma is a deadly form of malignancy and according to the World Health Organization 132,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed worldwide each year. Surgical resection and chemo/drug treatments opted for early and late stage of melanoma respectively, however detrimental post surgical and chemotherapy consequences are inevitable. Noticeably melanoma drug treatments are associated with liver injuries such as hepatitis and cholestasis which are very common. Alleviation of these clinical manifestations with better treatment options would enhance prognosis status and patients survival. Natural products which induce cytotoxicity with minimum side effects are of interest to achieve high therapeutic efficiency. In this study we investigated anti-melanoma and hepatoprotective activities of frankincense essential oil (FEO) in both in vitro and in vivo models. Pretreatment with FEO induce a significant (p < 0.05) dose-dependent reduction in the cell viability of mouse (B16-F10) and human melanoma (FM94) but not in the normal human epithelial melanocytes (HNEM). Immunoblot analysis showed that FEO induces down regulation of Bcl-2 and up regulation of BAX in B16-F10 cells whereas in FM94 cells FEO induced dose-dependent cleavage of caspase 3, caspase 9 and PARP. Furthermore, FEO (10 μg/ml) treatment down regulated MCL1 in a time-dependent manner in FM94 cells. In vivo toxicity analysis reveals that weekly single dose of FEO (1200 mg/kg body weight) did not elicit detrimental effect on body weight during four weeks of experimental period. Histology of tissue sections also indicated that there were no observable histopathologic differences in the brain, heart, liver, and kidney compare to control groups. FEO (300 and 600 mg/kg body weight) treatments significantly reduced the tumor burden in C57BL/6 mice melanoma model. Acetaminophen (750 mg/kg body weight) was used to induce hepatic injury in Swiss albino mice. Pre treatment with FEO (250 and 500 mg/kg body weight) for seven days retained hematology (complete blood count), biochemical parameters (AST, ALT, ALK, total bilirubin, total protein, glucose, albumin/globulin ratio, cholesterol and triglyceride), and the level of phase I and II drug metabolizing enzymes (cytochrome P450, cytochromeb5, glutathione-S-transferase) which were obstructed by the administration of acetaminophen. Further liver histology showed that FEO treatments reversed the damages (central vein dilation, hemorrhage, and nuclei condensation) caused by acetaminophen. In conclusion, FEO elicited marked anti-melanoma in both in vitro and in vivo with a significant heptoprotection.

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