Antifungal properties of Japanese cedar essential oil from waste wood chips made from used sake barrels

Mol Med Rep. 2012 May;5(5):1163-8. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2012.821. Epub 2012 Mar 5.


In this study, we prepared essential oil (EO) from waste wood chips made from used sake barrels (USBs) of Japanese cedar (i.e., EO-USB) by steam distillation. We found that EO-USB and three commercially purchased EOs derived from xylem tissue of Japanese woods, such as Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica), Japanese cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa) and false arborvitae (Thujopsis dolabrata), suppressed fungal growth activity against Trichophyton rubrum, which is the cause of tinea disease. The magnitude of the suppressive effects of the EOs ranked as follows: T. dolabrata > USB = C. japonica > C. obtusa. These EOs also inhibited the activity of DNA polymerase in an extract from T. rubrum mycelia with the following ranking: T. dolabrata > USB = C. japonica > C. obtusa. In addition, 50 µg/ml of EO-USB showed antifungal properties, killing T. rubrum mycelia at 27-42˚C in 20 min. By gas chromatography/mass spectrometry analysis, the main sesquiterpenes in EO-USB were δ-cadinene (25.94%) and epi-cubenol (11.55%), and the composition of EO-USB was approximately the same as that of EO-C. japonica. Three prepared sesquiterpenes, δ-cadinene, epi-cubenol and β-eudesmol, inhibited the fungal growth and DNA polymerase activities of T. rubrum, and epi-cubenol showed the strongest inhibition among the compounds tested. These sesquiterpenes had no inhibitory effects on the activities of other DNA metabolic enzymes, such as DNA topoisomerase II, IMP dehydrogenase, polynucleotide kinase and deoxyribonuclease from T. rubrum. Taken together, these results suggest that EO-USB containing epi-cubenol may be useful for its anti-tinea disease properties, which are based on DNA polymerase inhibition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antifungal Agents / chemistry
  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cedrus / chemistry*
  • Japan
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Tinea / drug therapy
  • Tinea / enzymology
  • Trichophyton / enzymology
  • Trichophyton / growth & development*
  • Wood / chemistry*


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Oils, Volatile
  • cedarwood oil