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One of the bioflavonoids, apigenin appears to be catered towards reducing anxiety and causing sedation. Found in chamomile tea, alcoholic beverages, and Bacopa Monnieri, apigenin is unstable by itself yet stable when consumed via foods and herbs.

Our evidence-based analysis on apigenin features 44 unique references to scientific papers.

Research analysis led by and reviewed by the Examine team.
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Research Breakdown on Apigenin

1Sources and Composition

1.1Sources and Structure

Apigenin is a flavone compound found almost ubiquitously in plant compounds. It is most commonly isolated in abundance from the plant Matricaria recutita L, or Asteraceae.

Some of the more popular and abundant sources include chamomile tea[1] grapefruits, onions, oranges and some spices such as parsley.[2] and is also found in higher levels (relative to other foods) in celery, yarrow, tarragon, cilantro, foxglove, coneflower, licorice, flax, passion flower, horehound, spearmint, basil, and oregano.[3][4] It is also found in red wine[5] and beer[6] and is an active ingredient in the memory herb Gingko Biloba.[4] Chamomile is approximately 0.8-1.2% apigenin by weight.[2]

In food and herbal sources, the active apigenin is found in the form of various acylated derivates and Apigenin-7-O-glucoside.[7][8]

1.2Physicochemical Properties

Apigenin itself is a low molecular weight (270.24) with a very high melting point (347.5)[4] It is very insoluble in water by itself, but can become soluble in dilute potassium hydrochloride or DimethylSulfoxide (DMSO).[4] The food borne apigenin, apigenin-7-O-glucoside, has increased water solubility via its carbohydrate containing bond.[9] Chemicular apigenin is highly unstable, although the food bound sources are more stable in normal environments.[10][11]

1.3Formulations and Variants

A glycoside is a term used to refer to a molecule connected to sugar molecules. Glycosides tend to exist in plants as a storage form, and upon human consumption they can either be hydrolyzed into the molecule and sugars (two separate things to make note of) or remain bound together. For example, Cyanidin is a molecule while Cyanidin-3-O-Glucoside is a glycoside thereof that has some unique properties and can be detected in the blood after oral ingestion
Glycoside is a term that does not discriminate the sugar in concern, whereas the term glucoside may be used to refer to the same thing if the sugar is glucose

Apigenin-7-O-Apiosylglucoside (Apigenin bound at the 7-carbon to a glucose which is then bound to apiose, a pentacyclic sugar[12])

Apigenin bound to a glucose molecule at the 8 carbon is known as Vitexin, with the full name of Apigenin-8-O-glucoside.

Apigenin-7-O-Glucoside is known as Apigentrin.

Apigenin bound to a glucose molecule at the 6 carbon yields Apigenin-6-O-Glucoside and is also known as Isovitexin, homovitexin, or saponaretin.

Isovitexin can be further bound to another glucose at the 7 carbon to create Apigenin-6,7-Diglucoside, also known as Saponarin.

Apigenin bound to Neohesperidose (a disaccharide of Rhamnose and Glucose bound via an oxygen) results in a compound known as Rhoifolin

7-Methoxyapigenin is a molecule where the hydroxyl (-OH) group at the 7-carbon is replaced by a methoxy group (-OCH3).

If 7-Methoxyapigenin is bound to a glucose at the 6-carbon, it is known as Swertish; a diglucoside at this carbon results in Spinosin. If the glucose or diglucoside are bound to the 8-carbon, Puerarin and Isospinosin result (respectively); these 7-Methyoapigenin glycosides are known components of Ziziphus Jujuba



Upon ingestion of apigenin, it is rapidly metabolized via UDP glucuronosyltransferase UGT1A1 and released into serum as glucuroside and sulfate conjugates.[4][13] It has a half-life of 91.8 hours, and apigenin appears in the blood 24 hours after initial ingestion.[13] It is mostly excreted via the urine in the form of glucurosides and sulfate conjugates, but there is some fecal excretion as well due to enterohepatic ejection.


3.1GABAergic Neurotransmission

Apigenin possesses anxiolytic effects by acting as a benzodiazepine ligand, and has no muscle relaxant or sedative effects at normal dosages (3-10mg/kg bodyweight) but sedation was observed at 3 and 10-fold said dose.(30-100mg/kg bodyweight)[14]


Apigenin, in the form of Biapigenin, can exert a neuroprotective effect against excitotoxicity and prevent calcium build-up in neural mitochondria.[15]

4Interactions with Glucose Metabolism

4.1Type II Diabetes

Apigenin and two glucopyranoside glycosides of Apigenin, from the plant Cephalotaxus sinensis of the Plum Yew family, have been shown to exert anti-diabetic effects in the body by potentiating the GLUT4 response to insulin.[16]

5Inflammation and Immunology


Apigenin exerts its anti-inflammatory effects via suppressing the induction of NO-synthase and COX2 enzymes in macrophages via lipopolysacchraide influence.[17] Apigenin also has inhibitory effects on Interleukin-4 production.[18][19] Apigenin may also suppress TNFa elevations via interference with NF-kb transcription[20] and potentially TNFa induced upregulation of adhesion molecule 1.[21]

6Interactions with Hormones


Apigenin can inhibit both aromatase and 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (17β-HSD) with the inhibition of 17β-HSD being unique to apigenin and 3 other tested flavonoids (chrysin, genistein and naringenin)[22] and apigenin possessing an IC50 of 300nM (0.3μM). The IC50 of Apigenin on aromatase is approximately 2.9μM (most potent tested flavonoid on aromatase was 7-Hydroxyflavone at 0.21uM, outperforming the reference aminoglutethimide at 1.2uM[22]) and both of these enzymes are involved in testosterone synthesis at different stages.

Apigenin has been noted to directly block signalling through the thromboxane A2 (TBXA2) receptor in testicular leydig cells, reducing the ability of the TBXA2-COX2 pathway to induce a repressor protein known as DAX-1; as DAX-1 normally suppresses the transcription of a rate-limiting step of protein synthesis known as steroidogenic acute regulatory (StAR) protein, apigenin indirectly increased StAR activity and testosterone synthesis (induced by cAMP) in these cells.[23] This effect was concentration-dependent between 5-10μM with no effect at 1μM.[23]

Apigenin has been noted to modify a receptor (TBXA2) and an enzyme's activity (aromatase) in a manner which would be conducive to increasing testosterone activity, both at relatively low concentrations. It is uncertain what oral dose this translates to at this moment in time


Apigenin at 20μM in DU-125 and MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells appears to inhibit proliferation and in yeast assays activated both subunits of the estrogen receptor (ERα and ERβ) but activated ERβ at a lower concentration (100nM) while activating ERβ to a higher degree than ERα at higher concentrations (1μM).[24]


In isolated human H295R adrenal cells, 12.5μM of Apigenin decreased cortisol to 47.5% of control (being outperformed by both soy isoflavones) with significant efficacy at 6μg/mL and greater.[25]

7Interaction with Cancer Metabolism


Apigenin has been noted to bind to the VEGF receptors including VEGFR1 (hydrogen bonding at Glu878, Cys912, and Asp1040) and VEGFR2 (Lys868, Cys919, Asp1046) which are similar to the binding sites as the angiogenesis inhibitor Axitinib while the mean binding energy of Apigenin (−8.56kcal/mol and −9.01kcal/mol on VEGFR1 and VEGFR2, respectively) was lower than Axitinib (−12.38kcal/mol and −12.20kcal/mol).[26]


Apigenin is known as one of the bioflavonoid compounds in which has high selectivity to induce selective apoptosis of cancer cells in vivo.[27] Like other bioflavonoid compounds apigenin can reduce oxidative stress, induce cell cycle inhibition, increase hepatic detoxification enzyme efficacy, and act as anti-inflammatory to a degree.[28][29]

Laboratory animal studies suggest that apigenin exerts anti-mutagenic properties that occur in response to exogenous toxins and bacteria[30][31] and plays direct roles in metal chelation, free radical scavenging, and induction of phase II detoxification enzymes such as glutathione.[32][33] It is also an inhibitor of the enzyme ornithine decarboxylase, which may promote some tumor growth.[34]

The presence of Apigenin in vivo seems to exert acute protective effects against carcinogenic insults as well.[35][36] 

Other receptor targets of apigenin that may influence carcinogenesis include Heat Shock Proteins[37], telomerase[38], fatty acid synthase[39], the aryl hydrocarbon receptor[40], casein kinase 2 alpha[41], HER2/neu[42], and matrix metalloproteinases[43] It is also a relatively weak xanthine oxidase inhibitor.[44]

According to Shukla and Gupta, there is very little evidence to date to suggest that apigenin promotes adverse metabolic reactions in vivo when consumed as part of a normal diet.[2] Apigenin beneficially affects most types of cancer.

8Safety and Toxicity


Apigenin, in doses consumed via food intake, not apparent toxicity has been reported.[10][11]


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  2. ^ a b c Shukla S, Gupta S. Apigenin: a promising molecule for cancer prevention. Pharm Res. (2010)
  3. ^ Birt DF, Hendrich S, Wang W. Dietary agents in cancer prevention: flavonoids and isoflavonoids. Pharmacol Ther. (2001)
  4. ^ a b c d e Patel D, Shukla S, Gupta S. Apigenin and cancer chemoprevention: progress, potential and promise (review). Int J Oncol. (2007)
  5. ^ Bevilacqua L, et al. Identification of compounds in wine by HPLC-tandem mass spectrometry. Ann Chim. (2004)
  6. ^ Gerhäuser C. Beer constituents as potential cancer chemopreventive agents. Eur J Cancer. (2005)
  7. ^ Svehliková V, et al. Isolation, identification and stability of acylated derivatives of apigenin 7-O-glucoside from chamomile (Chamomilla recutita (L.) Rauschert). Phytochemistry. (2004)
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  9. ^ Tolstikova TG, Khvostov MV, Bryzgalov AO. The complexes of drugs with carbohydrate-containing plant metabolites as pharmacologically promising agents. Mini Rev Med Chem. (2009)
  10. ^ a b Ross JA, Kasum CM. Dietary flavonoids: bioavailability, metabolic effects, and safety. Annu Rev Nutr. (2002)
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  12. ^ Meyer H, et al. Bioavailability of apigenin from apiin-rich parsley in humans. Ann Nutr Metab. (2006)
  13. ^ a b Gradolatto A, et al. Pharmacokinetics and metabolism of apigenin in female and male rats after a single oral administration. Drug Metab Dispos. (2005)
  14. ^ Viola H, et al. Apigenin, a component of Matricaria recutita flowers, is a central benzodiazepine receptors-ligand with anxiolytic effects. Planta Med. (1995)
  15. ^ Silva B, et al. Quercetin, kaempferol and biapigenin from Hypericum perforatum are neuroprotective against excitotoxic insults. Neurotox Res. (2008)
  16. ^ Li W, et al. Antihyperglycemic effect of Cephalotaxus sinensis leaves and GLUT-4 translocation facilitating activity of its flavonoid constituents. Biol Pharm Bull. (2007)
  17. ^ Liang YC, et al. Suppression of inducible cyclooxygenase and inducible nitric oxide synthase by apigenin and related flavonoids in mouse macrophages. Carcinogenesis. (1999)
  18. ^ Kawai M, et al. Flavonoids and related compounds as anti-allergic substances. Allergol Int. (2007)
  19. ^ Yano S, et al. Dietary flavones suppresses IgE and Th2 cytokines in OVA-immunized BALB/c mice. Eur J Nutr. (2007)
  20. ^ Choi JS, et al. Flavones mitigate tumor necrosis factor-alpha-induced adhesion molecule upregulation in cultured human endothelial cells: role of nuclear factor-kappa B. J Nutr. (2004)
  21. ^ Panés J, et al. Apigenin inhibits tumor necrosis factor-induced intercellular adhesion molecule-1 upregulation in vivo. Microcirculation. (1996)
  22. ^ a b Le Bail JC, et al. Aromatase and 17beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase inhibition by flavonoids. Cancer Lett. (1998)
  23. ^ a b Li W, et al. Effects of apigenin on steroidogenesis and steroidogenic acute regulatory gene expression in mouse Leydig cells. J Nutr Biochem. (2011)
  24. ^ Mak P, et al. Apigenin suppresses cancer cell growth through ERbeta. Neoplasia. (2006)
  25. ^ Ohno S, et al. Effects of flavonoid phytochemicals on cortisol production and on activities of steroidogenic enzymes in human adrenocortical H295R cells. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. (2002)
  26. ^ Seo EJ, et al. Antiangiogenic activity and pharmacogenomics of medicinal plants from traditional korean medicine. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. (2013)
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  28. ^ O'Prey J, et al. Effects of dietary flavonoids on major signal transduction pathways in human epithelial cells. Biochem Pharmacol. (2003)
  29. ^ Surh YJ. Cancer chemoprevention with dietary phytochemicals. Nat Rev Cancer. (2003)
  30. ^ Khan TH, et al. Inhibitory effect of apigenin on benzo(a)pyrene-mediated genotoxicity in Swiss albino mice. J Pharm Pharmacol. (2006)
  31. ^ Kuo ML, Lee KC, Lin JK. Genotoxicities of nitropyrenes and their modulation by apigenin, tannic acid, ellagic acid and indole-3-carbinol in the Salmonella and CHO systems. Mutat Res. (1992)
  32. ^ Myhrstad MC, et al. Flavonoids increase the intracellular glutathione level by transactivation of the gamma-glutamylcysteine synthetase catalytical subunit promoter. Free Radic Biol Med. (2002)
  33. ^ Middleton E Jr, Kandaswami C, Theoharides TC. The effects of plant flavonoids on mammalian cells: implications for inflammation, heart disease, and cancer. Pharmacol Rev. (2000)
  34. ^ Wei H, et al. Inhibitory effect of apigenin, a plant flavonoid, on epidermal ornithine decarboxylase and skin tumor promotion in mice. Cancer Res. (1990)
  35. ^ Birt DF, et al. Inhibition of ultraviolet light induced skin carcinogenesis in SKH-1 mice by apigenin, a plant flavonoid. Anticancer Res. (1997)
  36. ^ Van Dross R, et al. The chemopreventive bioflavonoid apigenin modulates signal transduction pathways in keratinocyte and colon carcinoma cell lines. J Nutr. (2003)
  37. ^ Osada M, Imaoka S, Funae Y. Apigenin suppresses the expression of VEGF, an important factor for angiogenesis, in endothelial cells via degradation of HIF-1alpha protein. FEBS Lett. (2004)
  38. ^ Menichincheri M, et al. Catecholic flavonoids acting as telomerase inhibitors. J Med Chem. (2004)
  39. ^ Brusselmans K, et al. Induction of cancer cell apoptosis by flavonoids is associated with their ability to inhibit fatty acid synthase activity. J Biol Chem. (2005)
  40. ^ Reiners JJ Jr, Clift R, Mathieu P. Suppression of cell cycle progression by flavonoids: dependence on the aryl hydrocarbon receptor. Carcinogenesis. (1999)
  41. ^ Kim JS, et al. Protein kinase CK2alpha as an unfavorable prognostic marker and novel therapeutic target in acute myeloid leukemia. Clin Cancer Res. (2007)
  42. ^ Way TD, Kao MC, Lin JK. Apigenin induces apoptosis through proteasomal degradation of HER2/neu in HER2/neu-overexpressing breast cancer cells via the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt-dependent pathway. J Biol Chem. (2004)
  43. ^ Kim MH. Flavonoids inhibit VEGF/bFGF-induced angiogenesis in vitro by inhibiting the matrix-degrading proteases. J Cell Biochem. (2003)
  44. ^ Lin CM, et al. Prevention of cellular ROS damage by isovitexin and related flavonoids. Planta Med. (2002)