Isolation and identification of chemical constituents from Origanum majorana and investigation of antiproliferative and antioxidant activities

J Sci Food Agric. 2016 Feb;96(3):822-36. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.7155. Epub 2015 Apr 8.


Background: Origanum majorana L., belonging to the Lamiaceae family, has great potential and has been used as a folk medicine against asthma, indigestion, headache and rheumatism; in addition, the essential oils of this plant have been used widely in the food industry. Plant materials have been harvested from the Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Field of Gaziosmanpasa University. Air-dried plant materials were boiled in water, filtered, and the solvent part subsequently extracted with hexane and ethyl acetate. The chromatographic method was applied to the ethyl acetate extract to isolate bioactive secondary metabolites, the structures of which were elucidated by spectroscopic techniques: basically one-dimensional and two-dimensional nuclear magnetic resonance and quadrupole time-of-flight liquid chromatography. Antiproliferative and antioxidant activities of isolated secondary metabolites were determined.

Results: 5,6,3'-Trihydroxy-7,8,4'-trimethoxyflavone, hesperetin, hydroquinone, arbutin and rosmarinic acid were isolated from the water-soluble ethyl acetate extract of aerial parts of O. majorana. Antioxidant activities of isolated compounds and water-soluble ethyl acetate extract were investigated using assays of DPPH(•), ABTS(•+), reducing power and total phenolic content. Antiproliferative activities of the isolated compounds and plant extracts were investigated against C6 and HeLa cell lines using BrdU cell proliferation enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and xCELLigence assay, respectively. Both hesperetin and hydroquinone were determined to have stronger antiproliferative activities against C6 and HeLa cells than the other isolated compounds and 5-fluorouracil.

Conclusion: The results showed that the extract and isolated compounds exhibited significant antioxidant activities. Hence this plant has the potential to be a natural antioxidant in the food industry and an anticancer drug.

Keywords: Origanum majorana; antioxidant activity; antiproliferative activities; chemical constituents; structure elucidation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / analysis
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / isolation & purification*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / analysis
  • Antioxidants / isolation & purification*
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Brain Neoplasms
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Free Radical Scavengers / analysis
  • Free Radical Scavengers / chemistry
  • HeLa Cells
  • Hesperidin / isolation & purification
  • Hesperidin / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Hydroquinones / isolation & purification
  • Hydroquinones / pharmacology
  • Origanum / chemistry*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Phenols / analysis
  • Phenols / isolation & purification
  • Plant Components, Aerial / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Rats


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Antioxidants
  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Hydroquinones
  • Phenols
  • Plant Extracts
  • Hesperidin
  • hesperetin
  • hydroquinone