Plant essential oils and mastitis disease: their potential inhibitory effects on pro-inflammatory cytokine production in response to bacteria related inflammation

Nat Prod Commun. 2012 May;7(5):675-82.


This paper highlights the role of plant volatile organic compounds, found in essential oils, for the treatment of bacteria related inflammation. This report is focused on tea tree oil, particularly its main compound terpinen-4-ol. Analysis of the published literature shows that many essential oils have significant antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory effects. Some of their major components, such as terpinen-4-ol, act by inhibiting pro-inflammatory cytokine expression while stimulating production of anti-inflammatory cytokines. Such observations may be exploited to encourage biotherapy against mastitis. The use of synthetic antibiotics is being increasingly discouraged because their presence in dairy milk may have potential downstream effects on population health and the agri-food chain. In the context of inflammation and related mammalian responses, understanding the interplay between volatile organic compounds, especially terpinen-4-ol, and cytokines during bacteria related inflammation should clarify their mode of action to control mastitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Cattle
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mastitis, Bovine / drug therapy*
  • Mastitis, Bovine / immunology
  • Tea Tree Oil / pharmacology*
  • Tea Tree Oil / therapeutic use
  • Terpenes / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Cytokines
  • Terpenes
  • terpinenol-4
  • Tea Tree Oil