Frankincense diterpenes as a bio-source for drug discovery

Hidayat Hussain, Luay Rashan, Uzma Hassan, Muzaffar Abbas, Faruck L. Hakkim, Ivan R. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Introduction: Frankincense (Boswellia sp.) gum resins have been employed as an incense in cultural and religious ceremonies for many years. Frankincense resin has over the years been employed to treat depression, inflammation, and cancer in traditional medicines. Areas covered: This inclusive review focuses on the significance of frankincense diterpenoids, and in particular, incensole derivatives for establishment future treatments of depression, neurological disorders, and cancer. The authors survey the available literature and furnish an overview of future perspectives of these intriguing molecules. Expert opinion: Numerous diterpenoids including cembrane, prenylaromadendrane, and the verticillane-type have been isolated from various Boswellia resins. Cembrane-type diterpenoids occupy a crucial position in pharmaceutical chemistry and related industries because of their intriguing biological and encouraging pharmacological potentials. Several cembranes have been reported to possess anti-Alzheimer, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, and antimalarial effects along with a good possibility to treat anxiety and depression. Although some slight drawbacks of these compounds have been noted, including the selectivity of these diterpenoids, there is a great need to address these in future research endeavors. Moreover, it is vitally important for medicinal chemists to prepare libraries of incensole-heterocyclic analogs as well as hybrid compounds between incensole or its acetate and anti-depressant or anti-inflammatory drugs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-529
Number of pages17
JournalExpert Opinion on Drug Discovery
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
H Hussain (HH) acknowledges the support of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for its generous support by means of a fellowship.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Frankincense
  • alzheimer’s
  • cembrane
  • depression
  • inflammation
  • prenylaromadendrane
  • verticillane

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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