Guaiazulene (GA) is widely used as a natural ingredient in many health care products and solutions. Although it has been reported to have interesting biological effects, GA and azulene derivatives have been proven to be cytotoxic against normal human cells and human tumor cells; moreover, guaiazulene has shown photomutagenic properties on bacterial strains. Therefore, we evaluated and compared the cytotoxicity of GA at different concentrations on human gingival fibroblast (HGF) cell cultures under normal conditions and under UV irradiation (UV-A dose: 6.4 J/cm(2)). The compound tested was found to significantly reduce cell viability (dose-dependent trend, IC(50) 72.1 μM), decrease protein procollagen α1 type I synthesis, a marker for HGF protein, and COL1A1 mRNA expression. The cytotoxic effects were accompanied by activation of an intrinsic apoptotic pathway, studied using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and caspase-3 activation. The light exposure of the cell culture treated decreased GA-induced cell death (IC(50) 128.9 μM), suggesting a photoprotective effect due to the photodegradation of the toxic agent, guaiazulene. Furthermore, the products of the photodegradation reaction of GA proved not to be toxic against HGFs.
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