Anticancer and antibacterial activities of embelin: Micro and nano aspects

Document Type : Narrative Review


1 Nanobiotechnology Department, Faculty of Innovative Science and Technology, Razi University, Kermanshah, Iran; Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Kurdistan, Sanandaj, Kurdistan, Iran

2 Department of Pharmacy, Faculty of Sciences, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, South America, Colombia

3 GRIAUCC Research Group, Department of Engineering, Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia, Neiva, Huila, Colombia

4 Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad El Bosque, Bogotá D. C., Colombia


There are some reported anticancer and antibacterial effects for embelin, although, it’s poor aqueous solubility and bioavailability are main hindrance to apply embelin in therapeutics. In this regard, nanoformulations based on bare or functionalized nanomaterials can overcome these disadvantages. Embelin can be loaded or incorporated in biocompatible polymeric or protein nanoparticles (NPs) such as albumin NPs for improvement of solubility. In addition, targeting specific active sites of some major biological components such as amino acids of efflux pump in multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacteria can be possible by nanoformulation of embelin. The induction of apoptosis processes in cancer cells is also one of the major anticancer mechanisms of embelin, which has exhibited significant in vitro and in vivo results when nanoformulations are employed. The main aim of this review is to make a discussion about the advantages of these new nanoformulations in comparison with pure embelin. Overlay, embelin may be loaded or incorporated in biocompatible protein or polymeric NPs such as albumin NPs. Specifically, for antibacterial activity, nanoformulation of embelin-loaded chitosan Au-NPs with ciprofloxacin antibiotic exhibited the efficient interactions between embelin and the active sites of the efflux pump. Additionally, hyaluronic acid-coated amphiphilic polymeric NPs have the ability to enhance embelin uptake by triple negative breast cancer cells.

Graphical Abstract

Anticancer and antibacterial activities of embelin: Micro and nano aspects


  • The aqueous solubility and bioavailability of embelin can be enhanced by nano drug delivery systems.
  • Embelin can be loaded or incorporated in biocompatible polymeric NPs for improvement of its solubility.
  • Optimizing both micro and nano aspects of embelin formulation to augment anticancer and antibacterial activities is indispensable.


Main Subjects

Rights and permissions

© 2022 The MNBA. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (