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Molecules. 2016 Jul 27;21(8). pii: E931. doi: 10.3390/molecules21080931.

Capsaicin: From Plants to a Cancer-Suppressing Agent.

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Departamento de Nutrición, Universidad de Celaya, Carretera Panamericana km. 269 Col. Rancho Pinto, Celaya 38080, Mexico.
C.A. Biotecnología, Sustentabilidad e Ingeniería, Programa de Ingeniería en Biotecnología, Departamento de Ingeniería Agroindustrial, División de Ciencias de la Salud e Ingenierías, Campus Celaya-Salvatierra, Universidad de Guanajuato, Av. Mutualismo Esq. Prolongación Río Lerma S/N, Celaya, Gto. C.P. 38060, Mexico.


Capsaicinoids are plant secondary metabolites, capsaicin being the principal responsible for the pungency of chili peppers. It is biosynthesized through two pathways involved in phenylpropanoid and fatty acid metabolism. Plant capsaicin concentration is mainly affected by genetic, environmental and crop management factors. However, its synthesis can be enhanced by the use of elicitors. Capsaicin is employed as food additive and in pharmaceutical applications. Additionally, it has been found that capsaicin can act as a cancer preventive agent and shows wide applications against various types of cancer. This review is an approach in contextualizing the use of controlled stress on the plant to increase the content of capsaicin, highlighting its synthesis and its potential use as anticancer agent.


apoptosis; cancer; capsaicin; cell death; elicitors; stress

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