Antioxidant activity of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) essential oil and its hepatoprotective potential

BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014 Jul 7;14:225. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-14-225.


Background: Natural antioxidant products are increasingly being used to treat various pathological liver conditions considering the role of oxidative stress in their pathogenesis. Rosemary essential oil has already being used as a preservative in food industry due to its antioxidant and antimicrobial activities, but it was shown to possess additional health benefits. The aim of our study was to evaluate the protective effect of rosemary essential oil on carbon tetrachloride - induced liver injury in rats and to explore whether its mechanism of action is associated with modulation of hepatic oxidative status.

Methods: Chemical composition of isolated rosemary essential oil was determined by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. Antioxidant activity was determined in vitro using DPPH assay. Activities of enzyme markers of hepatocellular damage in serum and antioxidant enzymes in the liver homogenates were measured using the kinetic spectrophotometric methods.

Results: In this research, we identified 29 chemical compounds of the studied rosemary essential oil, and the main constituents were 1,8-cineole (43.77%), camphor (12.53%), and α-pinene (11.51%). Investigated essential oil was found to exert hepatoprotective effects in the doses of 5 mg/kg and 10 mg/kg by diminishing AST and ALT activities up to 2-fold in serum of rats with carbon tetrachloride-induced acute liver damage. Rosemary essential oil prevented carbon tetrachloride-induced increase of lipid peroxidation in liver homogenates. Furthermore, pre-treatment with studied essential oil during 7 days significantly reversed the activities of antioxidant enzymes catalase, peroxidase, glutathione peroxidase and glutathione reductase in liver homogenates, especially in the dose of 10 mg/kg.

Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that rosemary essential oil, beside exhibiting free radical scavenging activity determined by DPPH assay, mediates its hepatoprotective effects also through activation of physiological defense mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Carbon Tetrachloride / toxicity
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / etiology
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Liver / chemistry
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Random Allocation
  • Rats
  • Rosmarinus / chemistry*


  • Antioxidants
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Extracts
  • rosemary oil
  • Carbon Tetrachloride