Anticariogenic activity of macelignan isolated from Myristica fragrans (nutmeg) against Streptococcus mutans

Phytomedicine. 2006 Mar;13(4):261-6. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2004.04.007. Epub 2005 Jun 28.


The occurrence of dental caries is mainly associated with oral pathogens, especially cariogenic Streptococcus mutans. Preliminary antibacterial screening revealed that the extract of Myristica fragrans, widely cultivated for the spice and flavor of foods, possessed strong inhibitory activity against S. mutans. The anticariogenic compound was successfully isolated from the methanol extract of M. fragrans by repeated silica gel chromatography, and its structure was identified as macelignan by instrumental analysis using 1D-NMR, 2D-NMR and EI-MS. The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of macelignan against S. mutans was 3.9 microg/ml, which was much lower than those of other natural anticariogenic agents such as 15.6 microg/ml of sanguinarine, 250 microg/ml of eucalyptol, 500 microg/ml of menthol and thymol, and 1000 microg/ml of methyl salicylate. Macelignan also possessed preferential activity against other oral microorganisms such as Streptococcus sobrinus, Streptococcus salivarius, Streptococcus sanguis, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus casei in the MIC range of 2-31.3 microg/ml. In particular, the bactericidal test showed that macelignan, at a concentration of 20 microg/ml, completely inactivated S. mutans in 1 min. The specific activity and fast-effectiveness of macelignan against oral bacteria strongly suggest that it could be employed as a natural antibacterial agent in functional foods or oral care products.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / isolation & purification
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Cariostatic Agents / isolation & purification
  • Cariostatic Agents / pharmacology
  • Cariostatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Dental Caries / prevention & control*
  • Lignans / isolation & purification
  • Lignans / pharmacology*
  • Lignans / therapeutic use
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Myristica / chemistry*
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology
  • Oils, Volatile / therapeutic use
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Seeds / chemistry
  • Streptococcus mutans / drug effects*
  • Time Factors


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Cariostatic Agents
  • Lignans
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Extracts
  • macelignan