Composition and antiproliferative effect of essential oil of Origanum vulgare against tumor cell lines

J Med Food. 2014 Oct;17(10):1129-33. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2013.0063. Epub 2014 Sep 17.


Cancer is a leading cause of death and is responsible for one in eight deaths worldwide. The use of herbs as complementary medicine for cancer, especially advanced cancer, has recently increased. The aim of this study was to evaluate in vitro, the antiproliferative effect of Origanum vulgare against human breast adenocarcinoma (MCF-7), and human colon adenocarcinoma (HT-29). The essential oil (EO) was extracted from a bought amount of O. vulgare dried leaves and analyzed in a gas chromatograph interfaced with a mass selective detector. The cytotoxicity test was performed by sulforhodamine B assay. The results show that the EO is composed mostly of 4-terpineol and induces a high cytotoxicity effect in HT-29. In the MCF-7 cell line the EO was less effective. In conclusion, this study showed that O. vulgare main component is 4-terpineol and was effective in inducing cancer cell growth inhibition.

Keywords: Origanum vulgare; antiproliferative assay; cancer cell lines; plant extracts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects*
  • Growth Inhibitors / chemistry*
  • Growth Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • MCF-7 Cells
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry*
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Origanum / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Growth Inhibitors
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Extracts