Current Pharmacology Reports

, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp 345–358 | Cite as

Sandalwood Oil for the Chemoprevention of Skin Cancer: Mechanistic Insights, Anti-inflammatory, and In Vivo Anticancer Potential

  • Rachita Jain
  • Sujit NairEmail author
Cancer Chemoprevention (R Agarwal and S Yu, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Cancer Chemoprevention


There is an increasing incidence of skin cancer across the world. The World Health Organization reports that the global incidence of melanoma will continue to rise with increasing depletion of the ozone layer and consequent UV irradiation. The natural product sandalwood oil from genus Santalum (Family Santalaceae) and its constituent alpha-santalol have been reported to exert chemopreventive effects against skin cancers as well as prostate, head and neck, and breast cancers. The anticancer effects are mediated via modulation of MAPK, AP-1, beta-catenin and PI3K/Akt pathways, upregulation of p21, and activation of caspases/PARP. Furthermore, sandalwood oil exerts anti-inflammatory activities via prostaglandin E2, IL-1beta, inhibition of NF-kappaB, and 5-lipoxygenase. Other therapeutic activities in eczema, psoriasis, radiation dermatitis, antifungal, etc. have also been reported. Sandalwood oil has acceptable safety and is well-tolerated. Taken together, given the chemopreventive potential of sandalwood oil, future clinical trials are warranted to investigate its use as an adjunct to chemotherapy or immunotherapy for skin cancers.


Natural product Sandalwood oil α-Santalol Skin cancer Anti-inflammatory Chemoprevention 


A431 cells

Human epidermoid carcinoma cell line


Activator protein 1


Basal cell carcinoma




Docosahexenoic acid


7,12-Dimethylbenz(a) anthracene


G protein-coupled receptor




Cultured human keratinocyte cells


Human umbilical vein endothelial cells




Human bladder carcinoma cell line


Microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3


Lethal dose (in 50% of population)


Lymph node carcinoma of the prostate (prostate cancer cells)




Mitogen-activated protein kinase


Michigan Cancer Foundation-7 (breast cancer cells)


Normal mammary epithelial cells

MDA-MB 231 cells

Triple-negative breast cancer cell line


Madin-Darby canine kidney cells


Ornithine decarboxylase


Tumor suppressor protein


Prostate cancer cell line




Polyunsaturated fatty acid


Squamous cell carcinoma


12-O-tetradecanoyl phorbol-13-acetate




Human urothelial cell line


Visual analog scale


Vascular endothelial growth factor


Vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2



The authors thank Viral Bakhai of ViralAnimationz ( for his assistance in drawing the electronic version of Fig. 3.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Shobhaben Pratapbhai Patel School of Pharmacy & Technology ManagementSVKM’s NMIMS UniversityMumbaiIndia
  2. 2.SVKM’s Dr. Bhanuben Nanavati College of PharmacyUniversity of MumbaiMumbaiIndia

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