1 Department of Marine Biology, School of Marine Science, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Marine Living Science, Iranian National Institute for Oceanography and Atmospheric Science, Tehran, Iran

3 Department of Medicinal Plant and Drug Research, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran


Breast cancer is the most common cancer type among women all over the world. Chemotherapy is the use of anticancer medicines for treating cancer but it has many side effects and cells may become resistant to these chemical medicines. Therefore, finding new compounds of natural origin could be a promising solution to this problem. The aim of the current study was to evaluate anticancer activity of fucoxanthin which is the most important carotenoid found in the marine brown seaweeds and diatoms. fucoxanthin has many properties (antioxidant, antibacterial, anticancer, antiobesity, anti-inflammatory and etc.) due to its unique structure. Samples with different concentrations (10, 25 and 50 µg/ml) and at various incubation times were collected (6, 24 and 48 hours) from four different species (Padina tenuis, Colpomenia sinuosa, Iyengaria stellate and Dictyota indica) of brown seaweeds from Qeshm Island, Persian Gulf. Moreover, the anticancer activity of fucoxanthin-containing extracts on breast cancer cells line and normal human skin fibroblast cells line was assessed by MTT [3-(4,5-dimethylthiazolyl)-2,5-diphenyl-tetrazolium bromide] assay to specify the cytotoxic effects. The results showed that fucoxanthin extract from Dictyota. indica at 24-hour treatment and 50 µg/ml concentration has the most effective anticancer activity on the breast cancer cells line, without toxic effects to the normal cells. According to the obtained results, it seems that Dictyota. Indica is a good candidate for further analysis and can be introduced to the food and pharmaceutical industries.

Graphical Abstract

In vitro investigating of anticancer activity of focuxanthin from marine brown seaweed species


  • The cytotoxic capacity of foucoxanthin containing extracts from four brown seaweeds i.e.  Dictyota indica, Padina tenuis, Colpomenia sinuosa, Iyengaria stellate were studied.
  • The fucoxanthin containing extract from Dictyota indica at 24 hours treatment and 50 µg/ml concentration showed the most effective anticancer activity on breast cancer cells line
  • The fucoxanthin containing extracts of all the studied seaweeds do not have significant effect on normal cells.


Alghazeer, R.; Enaeli, M.; Howell, N.K., (2016). Anticancer and antioxidant activities of some algae from western Libyan coast. Pharmacol. Toxicol. Ver. 1, 2016090018.

Ashwini, S.; Manjula, S., (2017). A study on ethanolic extracts of red seaweed Gracilaria corticata (J. Agardh) J. Agardh, to assess the antiproliferative activity and morphological characterization of apoptosisi on Hela cell lines. Int. J. Phytomedicine., 9: 436-442 (7 pages).

Ayyad, S.E.N.; Ezmirly, S.T.; Basaif, S.A.; Alarif, W.M.; Badria, A.F.; Badria, F.A., (2011). Antioxidant, cytotoxic, antitumor, and protective DNA damage metabolites from the red sea brown alga Sargassum sp. Pharmacogn. Res., 3: 160-165 (6 pages).

Beppu, F.; Niwano, Y.; Tsukui, T.; Hosokawa, M.; Miyashita, K., (2009). Single and repeated oral dose toxicity study of fucoxanthin (FX), a marine carotenoid, in mice. J. Toxicol. Sci., 34: 501-510 (10 pages).

Das, S.K.; Hashimoto, T.; Shimizu, K.; Yoshida, T.; Sakai, T.; Sowa, Y.; Komoto, A.; Kanazawa, K., (2005). Fucoxanthin induces cell cycle arrest at G0/G1 phase in human colon carcinoma cells through  up-regulation of p21 WAF1/Cip1. Biochim. Biophys. Acta Gen. Subj., 1726: 328-335 (8 pages).

D’Orazio, N.; Gemello, E.; Gammone, M.A.; de Girolamo, M.; Ficoneri, C.; Riccioni, G., (2012). Fucoxantin: A treasure from the sea. Mar. Drugs., 10: 604-616 (13 pages).

Duraikannu, K.; Shameem rani, K.; Anithajothi, R.; Umagowsalya, G.; Ramakritinan, C.M., (2017). In-vivo anticancer activity of red algae (Gelidiela Acerosa and Acanthophora Spicifera). Int. J. Pharm. Sci. Res., 5(8): 3347-3352 (6 pages).

Erfani, N.; Nazemosadat, Z., Moein, M., (2015). Cytotoxic activity of ten algae from the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea on human breast cancer cell lines; MDA-MB-231, MCF-7, and T-47D.Pharmacognosy. Res., 7(2): 133-137 (5 pages).

Gharanjik, B.M.; Ghadikolaei, K.R., (2009). Atlas of the sea algae of the Persian Gulf and Oman sea coasts. Iranian Fisheries Research Organization. 47-77 (31 pages).

Giacinti, L.; Claudio, P.P.; Lopez, M.; Giordano, A., (2006). Epigenetic information and estrogen receptor alpha expression in breast cancer. Oncologist., 11: 1-8 (8 pages).

Heo, S. J.; Yoon, W. J.; Kim, K. N.; Ahn, G. N.; Kang, S. M.; Kang, D. H.; Jeon, Y. J., (2010). Evaluation of anti-inflammatory effect of fucoxanthin isolated from brown algae in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated RAW 264.7 macrophages. Food. Chem. Toxic., 48(8-9): 2045-2051 (7 pages).

Hong, D.; Hien, H.; Son, P., (2007). Seaweeds from Vietnam used for functional food, medicine and biofertilizer. J. Appl. Phycol., 19: 817–826 (10 pages).

Haugen, J.A.; Akermann. T.; Liaaen-Jensen, S., (1992). Isolation of fucoxanthin and peridinin. Methods Enzymol., 213: 231–245 (14 pages).

Ishikawa, C.; Tafuku, S.; Kadekaru, T.; Sawada, S.; Tomita, M.; Okudaira, T.; Nakazato, T.; Toda, T.; Uchihara, J.N.; Taira, N., (2008).Antiadult T-cell leukemia effects of brown algae fucoxanthin and its deacetylated product, fucoxanthinol. Int. J. Cancer, 123: 2702-2712 (11 pages).

Jin, S.; Zhang, Q.Y.; Kang, X.M.; Wang, J.X.; Zhao, W.H., (2010). Daidzein induces MCF-7 breast cancer cell apoptosis via the mitochondrial pathway. Ann. Oncol., 21: 263-268 (6 pages). 

Koch, S.; Mayer, F.; Honecker, F.; Schittenhelm, M., (2003). Efficacy of cytotoxic agents used in the treatment of testicular germ cell tumours under normoxic and hypoxic conditions in vitro. Br. J. Cancer. 89: 2133-2139 (7 pages).

Konishi, I.; Hosokawa, M.; Sashima, T.; Kobayashi, H.; Miyashita, K., (2005) Halocynthiaxanthin and fucoxanthinol isolated from Halocynthia roretzi induce apoptosis in human leukemia, breast and colon cancer cells. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. C. Toxicol. Pharmacol., 142: 53-59 (7 pages). 

Kumar, S.R.; Hosokawa, M.; Miyashita, K., (2013). Fucoxanthin: A marine carotenoid exerting anti- cancer effects by affecting multiple mechanisms. Mar. Drugs., 11: 5130–5147 (18 pages).

Lordan, S.; Ross, R.P.; Stanton, C., (2011). Marine bioactives as functional food ingredients: Potential toreduce the incidence of chronic diseases. Mar. Drugs., 9: 1056-1100 (45 pages).

Maeda, H.; Hosokawa, M.; Sashima, T.; Funayama, K.; Miyashita, K., (2005). Fucoxanthin from edible seaweed, Undaria pinnatifida, shows antiobesity effect through UCP1 expression in white adipose tissues. Biochem. Bioph. Res. Com., 332(2): 392-397 (6 pages).

Maeda, H.; Hosokawa, M.; Sashima, T.; Funayama, K.; Miyashita, K., (2007). Effect of medium-chain triacylglycerols on anti-obesity effect of Fucoxanthin. J. Oleo. Sci., 56(12): 615-621 (7 pages).

Martin, L.J., (2015). Fucoxanthin and Its Metabolite Fucoxanthinol in Cancer Prevention and Treatment. Mar. Drugs., 13: 4784-4798 (15 pages). 

Miyashita, H.M.; Hosokawa, M., (2008). Beneficial health effects of seaweed carotenoid, Fucoxanthin. In F. Shahid, C. Barrow (Eds.), Marine nutraceuticals and functional foods. Taylor and Francis Publisher, 297-308 (12 pages).

Mikami, K.; Hosokawa, M., (2013). Biosynthetic pathway and health benefits of fucoxanthin, an algae-specific xanthophyll in brown seaweeds. Int. J. Mol. Sci.,14: 13763-13781 (19 pages).

Mosmann, T., (1983). Rapid colorimetric assay for cellular growth and survival: Application to proliferation and cytotoxicity assays. J. Immunol. Methods, 65: 55-63 (9 pages).

Nakazawa, Y.; Sashima, T.; Hosokawa, M.; Miyashita, K., (2009). Comparative evaluation of growth inhibitory effect of stereoisomers of fucoxanthin in human cancer cell lines. J. Func. Foods, 1(1): 88-97 (10 pages)

Namvar, F.; Mohamad, R.; Baharara, J.; Zafar-Balanejad, S.; Fargahi, F.; Rahman, H.S., (2013).      Antioxidant, antiproliferative, and antiangiogenesis effects of polyphenol-rich seaweed (sargassum muticum). BioMed. Res. Int. Article ID 604787, (10 pages).

Namvar. F., Baharara. J., Mahdi. A.A., (2014). Antioxidant and Anticancer Activities of Selected Persian Gulf Algae. Ind. J. Clin. Biochem., 29: 13–20 (8 pages).

Peng, J.; Yuan, J. P.; Wu, C. F.; Wang, J. H., (2011). Fucoxanthin, a marine carotenoid present in brown seaweeds and diatoms: Metabolism and bioactivities relevant to human health. Marine. Drugs., 9(10): 1806-1828 (23 pages).

Pereira, D.M.; Cheel, J.; Arche, C.; San-Martin, A.; Rovirosa, J.; Silva, L.R.; Valentao, P.; Andrade, P.B., (2011) Anti-proliferative activity of meroditerpenoids isolated from the brown alga Stypopodium flabelliforme against several cancer cell lines. Mar. Drugs., 9: 852-862 (11 pages).

Plaza, M.; Cifuentes, A.; Ibez, E., (2008). In the search of new functional food ingredients from algae. Trends. Food. Sci. Technol., 19: 31–39 (9 pages).

Rodriguez-Jasso, R.M.; Mussatto, S.I.; Pastrana, L.; Aguilar, C.N.; Teixeira, J.A., (2011) Microwave-assisted extraction of sulfated polysaccharides (fucoidan) from brown seaweed. Carbohydr. Polym. 86: 1137-1144 (8 pages).

Rokkaku, T.; Kimura, R.; Ishikawa, C.; Yasumoto, T.; Senba, M.; Kanaya, F.; Mori, N., (2013). Anticancer effects of marine carotenoids, fucoxanthin and its deacetylated product, fucoxanthinol, on osteosarcoma. Int. J. Oncol., 43: 1176–1186 (11 pages).

Rwigemera, A.; Mamelona, J.; Martin, L.J., (2015). Comparative effects between fucoxanthinol and its precursor fucoxanthin on viability and apoptosis of breast cancer cell lines MCF and MDA-MB-231. Anticancer. Res., 35: 207-219 (13 pages).

Shiratori, K.; Ohgami, K.; Ilieva, I.; Jin, X. H.; Koyama, Y.; Miyashita, K.; Ohno, S., (2005). Effects of fucoxanthin on lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammation in vitro and in vivo. Experimental. Eye. Res., 81(4): 422-428 (7 pages).

Sithrang, B. N.; Kathiresan, K., (2010). Anticancer drugs from marine flora: an overview. J. Oncol. Article ID 214186, (19 pages).

Tanaka, T.; Shnimizu, M.; Moriwaki, H., (2012). Cancer chemoprevention by carotenoids. Molecules., 17: 3202-3242 (41 pages).

Terasaki, M.; Hirose, A.; Narayan, B.; Baba, Y.; Kawagoe, C.; Yasui, H.; Miyashita, K., (2009). Evaluation of recoverable functional lipid components of several brown seaweeds (Phaeophyta) from Japan with special reference to fucoxanthin and fucosterol contents. J .Phycol., 45(4): 974-980 (7 pages).

Takahashi, K.; Hosokawa, M.; Kasajima. H.; Hatanaka. K.; Kudo. K.; Shimoyama. N.; Miyashita. K., (2015). Anticancer effects of fucoxanthin and fucoxanthinol on colorectal cancer cell lines and colorectal cancer tissues. Oncol. Lett., 10: 1463-1467 (5 pages).  

Wang, S.K.; Li, T.; White, W.L.; Lu, J., (2014). Extracts from New Zealand Undaria pinnatifida containing Fucoxanthin as potential functional biomaterials against Cancer in Vitro. J. Funct. Biomater., 5: 29-42 (14 pages).

Yamamoto, K.; Ishikawa, C.; Katano, H.; Yasumoto, T.; Mori, N., (2011). Fucoxanthin and its deacetylated product, fucoxanthinol, induce apoptosis of primary effusion lymphomas. Cancer Lett., 300: 225-234 (10 pages). 

Letters to Editor

GJESM Journal welcomes letters to the editor for the post-publication discussions and corrections which allows debate post publication on its site, through the Letters to Editor. Letters pertaining to manuscript published in GJESM should be sent to the editorial office of GJESM within three months of either online publication or before printed publication, except for critiques of original research. Following points are to be considering before sending the letters (comments) to the editor.

[1] Letters that include statements of statistics, facts, research, or theories should include appropriate references, although more than three are discouraged.
[2] Letters that are personal attacks on an author rather than thoughtful criticism of the author’s ideas will not be considered for publication.
[3] Letters can be no more than 300 words in length.
[4] Letter writers should include a statement at the beginning of the letter stating that it is being submitted either for publication or not.
[5] Anonymous letters will not be considered.
[6] Letter writers must include their city and state of residence or work.
[7] Letters will be edited for clarity and length.