Eugenol isolated from the essential oil of Eugenia caryophyllata induces a reactive oxygen species-mediated apoptosis in HL-60 human promyelocytic leukemia cells

Cancer Lett. 2005 Jul 8;225(1):41-52. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2004.11.018. Epub 2004 Dec 15.


Eugenol is a major component of essential oil isolated from the Eugenia caryophyllata (Myrtaceae), which has been widely used as a herbal drug. In this study, we investigated the effects of eugenol on the cytotoxicity, induction of apoptosis, and the putative pathways of its actions in human promyelocytic leukemia cells (HL-60) under the standard laboratory illumination. Eugenol-treated HL-60 cells displayed features of apoptosis including DNA fragmentation and formation of DNA ladders in agarose gel electrophoresis. We observed that eugenol transduced the apoptotic signal via ROS generation, thereby inducing mitochondrial permeability transition (MPT), reducing anti-apoptotic protein bcl-2 level, inducing cytochrome c release to the cytosol, and subsequent apoptotic cell death. Taken together, the present study demonstrated that ROS plays a critical role in eugenol-induced apoptosis in HL-60, and this is the first report on the mechanism of the anticancer effect of eugenol.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis*
  • DNA Adducts
  • DNA Damage
  • Eugenol / pharmacology*
  • HL-60 Cells
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / physiology
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry
  • Permeability
  • Reactive Oxygen Species*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Syzygium / chemistry*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • DNA Adducts
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Eugenol