Effect of "rose essential oil" inhalation on stress-induced skin-barrier disruption in rats and humans

Chem Senses. 2012 May;37(4):347-56. doi: 10.1093/chemse/bjr108. Epub 2011 Dec 13.


In stressed animals, several brain regions (e.g., hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus [PVN]) exhibit neuronal activation, which increases plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and glucocorticoids. We previously reported that so-called "green odor" inhibits stress-induced activation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenocortical axis (HPA axis) and thereby prevents the chronic stress-induced disruption of the skin barrier. Here, we investigated whether rose essential oil, another sedative odorant, inhibits the stress-induced 1) increases in PVN neuronal activity in rats and plasma glucocorticoids (corticosterone [CORT] in rats and cortisol in humans) and 2) skin-barrier disruption in rats and humans. The results showed that in rats subjected to acute restraint stress, rose essential oil inhalation significantly inhibited the increase in plasma CORT and reduced the increases in the number of c-Fos-positive cells in PVN. Inhalation of rose essential oil significantly inhibited the following effects of chronic stress: 1) the elevation of transepidermal water loss (TEWL), an index of the disruption of skin-barrier function, in both rats and humans and 2) the increase in the salivary concentration of cortisol in humans. These results suggest that in rats and humans, chronic stress-induced disruption of the skin barrier can be limited or prevented by rose essential oil inhalation, possibly through its inhibitory effect on the HPA axis.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Animals
  • Corticosterone / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / drug effects
  • Male
  • Odorants
  • Oils, Volatile / administration & dosage
  • Oils, Volatile / therapeutic use*
  • Paraventricular Hypothalamic Nucleus / drug effects
  • Permeability / drug effects
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Restraint, Physical
  • Rosa / chemistry*
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Skin / drug effects*
  • Skin / physiopathology
  • Stress, Physiological / drug effects*
  • Tranquilizing Agents / administration & dosage
  • Tranquilizing Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Water Loss, Insensible / drug effects
  • Young Adult


  • Oils, Volatile
  • Tranquilizing Agents
  • Corticosterone
  • Hydrocortisone