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Essential oils of Lippia alba have cytotoxic effects against liver and lung cancer cell lines in humans


Medicinal plants contain compounds that are known to interfere with the development of diseases such as cancer. Essential oils from these aromatic plants are a potent form of administering these compounds. A study published in the Journal of Essential Oil Research investigated the anti-proliferation effect and cytotoxicity of the essential oil from a species of flowering plant Lippia alba on human cancer cells.

  • L. alba is a species of flowering plant native to southern Texas in the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.
  • Essential oils (EOs) are considered attractive remedies because of their widespread use, good bioavailability, low toxicity and affordable cost.
  • EOs from L. alba (LaEOs) manifest intraspecific chemical differences in their composition (chemotypes) and are notable for the chemical diversity of their volatile secondary metabolites.
  • The researchers evaluated LaEOs chemotypes for their cytotoxicity on human cancer culture cells and investigated the mechanisms involved in tagetenone (ta) chemotype cytotoxicity.
  • They found that the LaEOs exhibited selective cytotoxicity against human liver carcinoma cell HepG2 and human alveolar basal epithelial cell A549. The mechanism involved cell cycle arrest and apoptosis induction.
  • Tagetenone chemotype (LaEOta) treatment was found to reduce 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase and inhibit cholesterogenesis with farnesyl pyrophosphate redirection toward other end products, such as ubiquinone.

The researchers concluded that their study contributes to a clearer understanding of mechanisms of action of LaEOta, and that the tagetenone chemotype could be a chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic agent against human liver and lung cancer.

Journal Reference:

Montero-Villegas S, Crespo R, Rodenak-Kladniew B, Castro MA, Galle M, Ciccio JF, Bravo MGD, Polo M. CYTOTOXIC EFFECTS OF ESSENTIAL OIL FROM FOUR LIPPIA ALBA CHEMOTYPES IN HUMAN LIVER AND LUNG CANCER CELL LINES. Journal of Essential Oil Research. 2018;30(3):167–181. DOI: 10.1080/10412905.2018.1431966



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