Comparative studies of cytotoxic and apoptotic properties of different extracts and the essential oil of Lavandula angustifolia on malignant and normal cells

Nutr Cancer. 2014;66(3):424-34. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2013.878736. Epub 2014 Feb 26.


Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia Mill.) is a bush-like shrub from Lamiaceae. The herb has been used in alternative medicine for several centuries. In this study, the cytotoxicity and the mechanisms of cell death induced by 3 different extracts of aerial parts and the essential oil of L. angustifolia were compared in normal and cancerous human cells. Malignant (HeLa and MCF-7 cell lines) and nonmalignant (human fibroblasts) cells were incubated with different concentrations of the plant extracts. Cell viability was quantified by MTS assay. Apoptotic cells were determined using propidium iodide staining of DNA fragmentation by flow cytometry (sub-G1 peak). The molecules as apoptotic signal translation, including Bax and cleaved PARP, were identified by Western blot. Ethanol and n-hexane extracts and essential oil exhibited significant cytotoxicity to malignant cells but marginal cytotoxicity to human fibroblasts in vitro and induced a sub-G1 peak in flow cytometry histogram of treated cells compared to the control. Western blot analysis demonstrated that EtOH and n-hexane extracts upregulated Bax expression, also it induced cleavage of PARP in HeLa cells compared to the control. In conclusion, L. angustifolia has cytotoxic and apoptotic effects in HeLa and MCF-7 cell lines, and apoptosis is proposed as the possible mechanism of action.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • HeLa Cells / drug effects
  • Hexanes / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Lavandula / chemistry*
  • MCF-7 Cells / drug effects
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerases / metabolism
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • BAX protein, human
  • Hexanes
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Extracts
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein
  • n-hexane
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerases