Letter to the editor

A recent overview on the biological and pharmacological activities of ferulic acid

Jae Kwang Kim1, Sang Un Park2[*]

1Division of Life Sciences and Convergence Research Center for Insect Vectors, Incheon National University, Incheon 22012, Korea

2Department of Crop Science, Chungnam National University, 99 Daehak-ro, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon, 34134, Korea

EXCLI J 2019;18:Doc132


Dear Editor,

Ferulic acid (FA) is an important phenolic acid that is commonly present in the leaves, fruits, and seeds of most plants. Certain types of grasses, including rice, wheat, and oats, are highly concentrated sources of FA. The name, ferulic, originates from the genus, Ferula, referring to giant fennel (Ferula communis). The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) name for FA is (E)-3-(4-hydroxy-3-methoxy-phenyl) prop-2-enoic acid (Srinivasan et al., 2007[40]; Bento-Silva et al., 2018[4]). In plants, FA is biosynthesized from caffeic acid by the enzyme caffeate O-methyltransferase. FA, along with dihydroferulic acid, acts as a component of lignocellulose, which crosslinks lignins and polysaccharides, thereby conferring rigidity to the cell walls (de Oliveira et al., 2015[11]).

FA has been recognized as an important chemical structure serving several biological activities, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antiallergic, antimicrobial, antithrombotic, anticarcinogenic, and hepatoprotective actions, directly or indirectly (Kumar and Pruthi, 2014[23]; Mancuso and Santangelo, 2014[25]). The FA enrichment in different food items could reduce oxidative damage and amyloid pathology, especially for Alzheimer disease (Nabavi et al., 2015[29]; Sgarbossa et al., 2015[37]). In this review, we summarize the recent findings on the biological and pharmacological activities of FA (Table 1(Tab. 1); References in Table 1: Asadpour et al., 2018[1]; Aswar and Patil, 2016[2]; Bami et al., 2017[3]; Canturk, 2018[5]; Chen et al., 2018[6]; Cheng et al., 2016[7]; Chowdhury et al., 2016[8]; Colonnello et al., 2018[9]; Das et al., 2016[10]; Eitsuka et al., 2016[12]; El-Ashmawy et al., 2018[13]; Fong et al., 2016[14]; Gerin et al., 2016[15]; Gong et al., 2017[16]; Gu et al., 2017[17]; Hahn et al., 2016[18]; Hassanzadeh et al., 2017[19]; Hassanzadeh et al., 2018[20]; Ibitoye and Ajiboye, 2018[21]; Jayamani et al., 2018[22]; Macías-Cruz et al., 2018[24]; Maruyama et al., 2018[26]; Mir et al., 2018[27]; Mu et al., 2018[28]; Nagai et al., 2017[30]; Park et al., 2018[31]; Perez-Ternero et al., 2017[32]; Qi et al., 2017[33]; Sadar et al., 2016[34]; Sagar et al., 2016[35]; Salazar-López et al., 2017[36]; Shao et al., 2018[38]; Sompong et al., 2017[39]; Sudhagar et al., 2018[41]; Szulc-Kielbik et al., 2017[42]; Wang et al., 2017[43]; Yang et al., 2016[44]; Yu et al., 2016[45]; Yuan et al., 2016[46]; Zeni et al., 2017[47]; Zhang et al., 2018[48]; Zhou et al., 2017[50]; Zhou et al., 2018[49]).


This research was supported by Golden Seed Project (213006051WTE11) funded by Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA), Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF), Rural Development Administration (RDA) and Korea Forest Service (KFS), Republic of Korea.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.



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16. Gong W, Wan J, Yuan Q, Man Q, Zhang X. Ferulic acid alleviates symptoms of preeclampsia in rats by upregulating vascular endothelial growth factor. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2017;44:1026-31.
17. Gu L, Cui X, Wei W, Yang J, Li X. Ferulic acid promotes survival and differentiation of neural stem cells to prevent gentamicin-induced neuronal hearing loss. Exp Cell Res. 2017;360:257-63.
18. Hahn HJ, Kim KB, Bae S, Choi BG, An S, Ahn KJ, et al. Pretreatment of ferulic acid protects human dermal fibroblasts against ultraviolet A irradiation. Ann Dermatol. 2016;28:740-8.
19. Hassanzadeh P, Arbabi E, Atyabi F, Dinarvand R. Ferulic acid exhibits antiepileptogenic effect and prevents oxidative stress and cognitive impairment in the kindling model of epilepsy. Life Sci. 2017;179:9-14.
20. Hassanzadeh P, Arbabi E, Atyabi F, Dinarvand R. Ferulic acid-loaded nanostructured lipid carriers: A promising nanoformulation against the ischemic neural injuries. Life Sci. 2018;193:64-76.
21. Ibitoye OB, Ajiboye TO. Ferulic acid potentiates the antibacterial activity of quinolone-based antibiotics against Acinetobacter baumannii. Microb Pathog. 2018;126:393-8.
22. Jayamani J, Naisini A, Madhan B, Shanmugam G. Ferulic acid, a natural phenolic compound, as a potential inhibitor for collagen fibril formation and its propagation. Int J Biol Macromol. 2018;113:277-84.
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24. Macías-Cruz U, Vicente-Pérez R, López-Baca MA, González-Ríos H, Correa-Calderón A, Arechiga CF, et al. Effects of dietary ferulic acid on reproductive function and metabolism of pre-pubertal hairbreed ewes during the anestrous season. Theriogenology. 2018;119:220-4.
25. Mancuso C, Santangelo R. Ferulic acid: pharmacological and toxicological aspects. Food Chem Toxicol. 2014;65:185-95.
26. Maruyama H, Kawakami F, Lwin TT, Imai M, Shamsa F. Biochemical characterization of ferulic acid and caffeic acid which effectively inhibit melanin synthesis via different mechanisms in B16 melanoma cells. Biol Pharm Bull. 2018;41:806-10.
27. Mir SM, Ravuri HG, Pradhan RK, Narra S, Kumar JM, Kuncha M, et al. Ferulic acid protects lipopolysaccharide-induced acute kidney injury by suppressing inflammatory events and upregulating antioxidant defenses in Balb/c mice. Biomed Pharmacother. 2018;100:304-15.
28. Mu M, Zuo S, Wu RM, Deng KS, Lu S, Zhu JJ, et al. Ferulic acid attenuates liver fibrosis and hepatic stellate cell activation via inhibition of TGF-β/Smad signaling pathway. Drug Des Devel Ther. 2018;12:4107-15.
29. Nabavi SF, Devi KP, Malar DS, Sureda A, Daglia M, Nabavi SM. Ferulic acid and Alzheimer's disease: promises and pitfalls. Mini Rev Med Chem. 2015;15:776-88.
30. Nagai N, Kotani S, Mano Y, Ueno A, Ito Y, Kitaba T, et al. Ferulic acid suppresses amyloid β production in the human lens epithelial cell stimulated with hydrogen peroxide. Biomed Res Int. 2017;2017:5343010.
31. Park HJ, Cho JH, Hong SH, Kim DH, Jung HY, Kang IK, et al. Whitening and anti-wrinkle activities of ferulic acid isolated from Tetragonia tetragonioides in B16F10 melanoma and CCD-986sk fibroblast cells. J Nat Med. 2018;72:127-35.
32. Perez-Ternero C, Werner CM, Nickel AG, Herrera MD, Motilva MJ, Böhm M, et al. Ferulic acid, a bioactive component of rice bran, improves oxidative stress and mitochondrial biogenesis and dynamics in mice and in human mononuclear cells. J Nutr Biochem. 2017;48:51-61.
33. Qi D, Li Q, Wang P, Wang X. Haemoglobin site-specifically modified with ferulic acid to suppress the autoxidation. Artif Cells Nanomed Biotechnol. 2017;45 (6):1-5.
34. Sadar SS, Vyawahare NS, Bodhankar SL. Ferulic acid ameliorates TNBS-induced ulcerative colitis through modulation of cytokines, oxidative stress, iNOs, COX-2, and apoptosis in laboratory rats. EXCLI J. 2016;15:482-99.
35. Sagar T, Rantlha M, Kruger MC, Coetzee M, Deepak V. Ferulic acid impairs osteoclast fusion and exacerbates survival of mature osteoclasts. Cytotechnology. 2016;68:1963-72.
36. Salazar-López NJ, Astiazarán-García H, González-Aguilar GA, Loarca-Piña G, Ezquerra-Brauer JM, Domínguez Avila JA, et al. Ferulic acid on glucose dysregulation, dyslipidemia, and inflammation in diet-induced obese rats: an integrated study. Nutrients. 2017;9(7):E675.
37. Sgarbossa A, Giacomazza D, di Carlo M. Ferulic acid: a hope for Alzheimer's disease therapy from plants. Nutrients. 2015;7:5764-82.
38. Shao S, Gao Y, Liu J, Tian M, Gou Q, Su X. Ferulic acid mitigates radiation injury in human umbilical vein endothelial cells in vitro via the thrombomodulin pathway. Radiat Res. 2018;190:298-308.
39. Sompong W, Cheng H, Adisakwattana S. Ferulic acid prevents methylglyoxal-induced protein glycation, DNA damage, and apoptosis in pancreatic β-cells. J Physiol Biochem. 2017;73:121-31.
40. Srinivasan M, Sudheer AR, Menon VP. Ferulic acid: therapeutic potential through its antioxidant property. J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2007;40:92-100.
41. Sudhagar S, Sathya S, Anuradha R, Gokulapriya G, Geetharani Y, Lakshmi BS. Inhibition of epidermal growth factor receptor by ferulic acid and 4-vinylguaiacol in human breast cancer cells. Biotechnol Lett. 2018;40:257-62.
42. Szulc-Kielbik I, Kielbik M, Klink M. Ferulic acid but not alpha-lipoic acid effectively protects THP-1-derived macrophages from oxidant and pro-inflammatory response to LPS. Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. 2017;39:330-7.
43. Wang H, Sun X, Zhang N, Ji Z, Ma Z, Fu Q, et al. Ferulic acid attenuates diabetes-induced cognitive impairment in rats via regulation of PTP1B and insulin signaling pathway. Physiol Behav. 2017;182:93-100.
44. Yang H, Qu Z, Zhang J, Huo L, Gao J, Gao W. Ferulic acid ameliorates memory impairment in d-galactose-induced aging mouse model. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2016;67:806-17.
45. Yu CL, Zhao XM, Niu YC. Ferulic acid protects against lead acetate-induced inhibition of neurite outgrowth by upregulating HO-1 in PC12 cells: involvement of ERK1/2-Nrf2 pathway. Mol Neurobiol. 2016;53:6489-500.
46. Yuan J, Ge K, Mu J, Rong J, Zhang L, Wang B, et al. Ferulic acid attenuated acetaminophen-induced hepatotoxicity though down-regulating the cytochrome P 2E1 and inhibiting toll-like receptor 4 signaling-mediated inflammation in mice. Am J Transl Res. 2016;8:4205-14.
47. Zeni ALB, Camargo A, Dalmagro AP. Ferulic acid reverses depression-like behavior and oxidative stress induced by chronic corticosterone treatment in mice. Steroids. 2017;125:131-6.
48. Zhang L, Dong M, Xu G, Tian Y, Tang H, Wang Y. Metabolomics reveals that dietary ferulic acid and quercetin modulate metabolic homeostasis in Rats. J Agric Food Chem. 2018;66:1723-31.
49. Zhou Q, Gong X, Kuang G, Jiang R, Xie T, Tie H, et al. Ferulic acid protected from kidney ischemia reperfusion injury in mice: possible mechanism through increasing adenosine generation via HIF-1α. Inflammation. 2018;41:2068-78.
50. Zhou ZY, Xu JQ, Zhao WR, Chen XL, Jin Y, Tang N, et al. Ferulic acid relaxed rat aortic, small mesenteric and coronary arteries by blocking voltage-gated calcium channel and calcium desensitization via dephosphorylation of ERK1/2 and MYPT1. Eur J Pharmacol. 2017;815:26-32.

Table 1: Recent studies on the biological and pharmacological activities of ferulic acid

[*] Corresponding Author:

Sang Un Park, Department of Crop Science, Chungnam National University, 99 Daehak-ro, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon, 34134, Korea; Tel.: +82-42-821-5730, Fax: +82-42-822-2631, eMail: supark@cnu.ac.kr