Prague Med. Rep. 2020, 121, 209-235

A Review on Role of Arecoline and Its Metabolites in the Molecular Pathogenesis of Oral Lesions with an Insight into Current Status of Its Metabolomics

Aparajita Das, Sarbani Giri

Laboratory of Molecular and Cell Biology, Department of Life Science and Bioinformatics, Assam University, Silchar, India

Received June 5, 2018
Accepted November 9, 2020

Areca nut consumption is a popular habit in Southeast Asian countries. One of the important biologically active alkaloids of areca nut is arecoline, which plays a role in mediating the development of several pathologies of the primary exposure site, the oral cavity. Studies on the metabolism of arecoline revealed the formation of several metabolites which themselves might be toxic. Moreover, polymorphisms in genes encoding enzymes involved in the metabolism of arecoline might predispose an organism towards the development of oral cancer. The present review tries to accumulate all the relevant existing literature and then elucidate the molecular mechanism by which arecoline plays a role in the development of oral submucous fibrosis and oral cancer. Existing information regarding arecoline metabolism, enzymes involved in the metabolic process and biological effects of the metabolites of arecoline have also been compiled and compared to study the toxicity of metabolites with its parent compound arecoline and whether they play any role in the pathogenesis of oral cancer mediated by areca nut consumption. A repertoire of molecular targets has come up in the discussion whose expression profile is perturbed by arecoline. Construction of induction cascade from existing literature has given an idea about the process of molecular pathogenesis. The summarized and analysed data can help to determine the molecular mechanism and drug targets, which in turn could be helpful in the prevention or treatment of these pathological conditions. It also brings into light areas where further research needs to be directed.


This study was supported by the University Grants Commission (UGC), India, under UGC Junior Research Fellowship scheme.


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