Cytotoxic activity of essential oils from labiatae and lauraceae families against in vitro human tumor models

Anticancer Res. Sep-Oct 2007;27(5A):3293-9.


Background: The aim of this work was to study the cytotoxicity of essential oils and their identified constituents from Sideritis perfoliata, Satureia thymbra, Salvia officinalis, Laurus nobilis and Pistacia palestina.

Materials and methods: Essential oils were obtained by hydrodistillation and were analysed by gas chromatography (GC) and GC/mass spectrometry (MS). The cytotoxic activity was evaluated in amelanotic melanoma C32, renal cell adenocarcinoma ACHN, hormone-dependent prostate carcinoma LNCaP, and MCF-7 breast cancer cell lines by the sulforhodamine B (SRB) assay.

Results: L. nobilis fruit oil exerted the highest activity with IC50 values on C32 and ACHN of 75.45 and 78.24 microg/ml, respectively. The activity of S. perfoliata oil on both cell lines (IC50 of 100.90 mg/ml for C32 and 98.58 microg/ml for ACHN, respectively) was also interesting. Among the tested constituents the highest activity was found when a-humulene was applied to LNCaP cells (IC50 of 11.24 microg/ml).

Conclusion: This study suggests for the first time the ability of S. perfoliata, S. thymbra, S. officinalis, L. nobilis and P. palestina essential oils and some identified terpenes to inhibit human tumor cell growth.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Lamiaceae / chemistry*
  • Lauraceae / chemistry*
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Extracts