Current Pharmacology Reports

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 157–169 | Cite as

The Mevalonate Pathway and Terpenes: a Diversity of Chemopreventatives

  • Jeffrey D. Neighbors
Cancer Chemoprevention (R Agarwal, K El Bayoumy and S Yu, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Cancer Chemoprevention


Purpose of Review

The goal of the present review is to give an overview of the most recent papers demonstrating the chemoprevention effects of terpenes. We were interested in showing the structural diversity of these compounds and elucidating overlapping mechanistic factors that may be responsible for chemoprevention by the terpenes in general in these effects.

Recent Findings

The studies reviewed point to chemoprevention effects across the broad array of structural classes of the terpenes, from the very small-molecule monoterpenes (10 carbon atoms) to the tetraterpenes (40 carbon atoms). These compounds have chemopreventative effects in cancers of the colon, bladder, skin, and liver. Some studies demonstrated that natural product mixtures have more robust effects and that synergy between compounds can be found in these natural products.


Terpenes are the most diverse class of compounds on earth. The complex biology of animals including the development of cancers has evolved with these compounds enabling numerous structurally diverse groups of the terpenes to have similar effects on the development and progression of cancers. Mechanistically, these actions tend to cluster into effects of reactive oxygen species and mediators of inflammation which are key players in carcinogenesis.


Mevalonate Isoprenoid Terpene Chemoprevention 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pharmacology and Medicine, Pennsylvania State University College of MedicineThe Penn State Cancer InstituteHersheyUSA

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