Volatile oil composition and antiproliferative activity of Laurus nobilis, Origanum syriacum, Origanum vulgare, and Salvia triloba against human breast adenocarcinoma cells

Nutr Res. 2010 Apr;30(4):271-8. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2010.04.001.


Medicinal plants and culinary herbs have gained importance in the last decade as cytotoxic and antitumor agents. We hypothesized that some of the commonly used spices with reported antimicrobial activity might have antiproliferative activity. In the present study, selected spices used in Jordan were chemically analyzed and investigated for their antiproliferative activity to the adenocarcinoma of breast cell line (MCF7). The composition of the essential oils of Laurus nobilis L, Origanum syriacum L, Origanum vulgare L, and Salvia triloba L was analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The antiproliferative activities of the hydrodistilled volatile oils and the crude ethanol and water extracts were evaluated using the sulphorhodamine B assay. 1,8-Cineol was the major constituent in the hydrodistilled oils of both plants, L nobilis and S triloba, with concentrations of 40.91% and 45.16%, respectively. The major constituent of O syriacum was the carvacrol (47.10%), whereas that of O vulgare was trans-sabinene hydrate (27.19%). The ethanol crude extracts of O syriacum, L nobilis, and S triloba showed antiproliferative activity to MCF7 with IC(50) values 6.40, 24.49, and 25.25 microg/mL, respectively. However, none of the hydrodistilled essential oils of the tested plant species or their aqueous extracts demonstrated cytotoxic activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / drug therapy*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / therapeutic use*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Jordan
  • Laurus / chemistry
  • Magnoliopsida / chemistry*
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology
  • Oils, Volatile / therapeutic use*
  • Origanum / chemistry
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Rhodamines
  • Salvia / chemistry
  • Spices
  • Terpenes / analysis
  • Terpenes / pharmacology
  • Terpenes / therapeutic use*


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Extracts
  • Rhodamines
  • Terpenes
  • lissamine rhodamine B