Capsaicin and Its Potential Anticancer Mechanisms of Action

  • Ravindran Jaganathan
  • Boregowda Purushotham
  • Narayanaswamy Radhakrishnan
  • Mallappa Kumara Swamy


The human diet and its nutritional content may benefit in preventing several health issues. The enrichment of natural compounds in foodstuffs, having health supporting qualities is the present-day attention of by dieticians to explore a healthy food. Capsicum spp., are amongst the enormously consumed fruits worldwide, due to their bioactive compounds, capsaicinoids. They are used as nutrition additives and possess pharmacological properties. Hence, hot pepper fruits are widely screened for their pharmaceutical uses in human beings. Capsaicin is the major and commonly occurring capsaicinoids in chilli peppers, and it imparts hot pungent flavour to chillies. It possesses several important biological functions, especially analgesic properties. Capsaicin functions as a neuropeptide-releasing agent, and selective for sensory peripheral neurons. The compound is soluble in fats and readily engrossed through the skin. When used externally, capsaicin controls peripheral nerve ache. Numerous studies have focused on phytochemicals in human diet with anti-tumourigenic or anti-mutagenic phytochemical properties. Several studies performed in animals and cell lines showed the initiation of vigorous apoptosis by capsaicin. Also, it induces cell cycle arrest, reactive oxygen species production and disrupts the loss of mitochondrial membrane integrity, thereby activating caspases activities to promote apoptosis. Further, capsaicin can induce apoptosis in cancer cell lines through increasing the expression of p53 and c-myc genes. In this chapter, scientific evidences describing the potent anticancer efficacy and the mechanisms of action of capsaicin against various types of human cancers are discussed in detail.


Cancer Cytotoxicity Inhibition Bioactive compound Therapeutics Medicines 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ravindran Jaganathan
    • 1
  • Boregowda Purushotham
    • 2
  • Narayanaswamy Radhakrishnan
    • 3
  • Mallappa Kumara Swamy
    • 2
  1. 1.Pathology Unit, Faculty of Medicine, Royal College of Medicine PerakUniversiti Kuala LumpurIpohMalaysia
  2. 2.Department of BiotechnologyEast West First Grade CollegeBengaluruIndia
  3. 3.Department of BiochemistrySt. Peter’s Institute of Higher Education and Research (SPIHER)ChennaiIndia

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