Essential Oil from Berries of Lebanese Juniperus excelsa M. Bieb Displays Similar Antibacterial Activity to Chlorhexidine but Higher Cytocompatibility with Human Oral Primary Cells

Molecules. 2015 May 21;20(5):9344-57. doi: 10.3390/molecules20059344.


Chlorhexidine (CHX), one of the most effective drugs administered for periodontal treatment, presents collateral effects including toxicity when used for prolonged periods; here, we have evaluated the bactericidal potency and the cytocompatibility of Juniperus excelsa M. Bieb essential oil (EO) in comparison with 0.05% CHX. The EO was extracted from berries by hydrodistillation and components identified by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. Bacterial inhibition halo analysis, quantitative cell viability 2,3-bis(2-methoxy-4-nitro-5-sulphophenyl)-5-[(phenyl amino) carbonyl]-2H-tetrazolium hydroxide assay (XTT), and colony forming unit (CFU) count were evaluated against the two biofilm formers Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans and Streptococcus mutans. Finally, cytocompatibility was assessed with human primary gingival fibroblasts (HGF) and mucosal keratinocytes (HK). The resulting EO was mainly composed of monoterpene hydrocarbons and oxygenated monoterpenes. An inhibition halo test demonstrated that both bacteria were sensitive to the EO; XTT analysis and CFU counts confirmed that 10-fold-diluted EO determined a statistically significant (p < 0.05) reduction in bacteria count and viability towards both biofilm and planktonic forms in a comparable manner to those obtained with CHX. Moreover, EO displayed higher cytocompatibility than CHX (p < 0.05). In conclusion, EO exhibited bactericidal activity similar to CHX, but a superior cytocompatibility, making it a promising antiseptic alternative to CHX.

Keywords: Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans; Streptococcus mutans; antibiotic resistance; dental caries; oral health; periodontitis; α-pinene.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans / drug effects*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Biofilms / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Chlorhexidine / adverse effects
  • Chlorhexidine / pharmacology
  • Dental Caries / drug therapy
  • Dental Caries / prevention & control
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Gingiva / cytology
  • Gingiva / drug effects
  • Juniperus / metabolism
  • Keratinocytes / drug effects
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Monoterpenes / adverse effects
  • Monoterpenes / pharmacology
  • Mucous Membrane / cytology
  • Mucous Membrane / drug effects
  • Oils, Volatile / adverse effects
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Oral Health
  • Periodontal Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Plant Oils / adverse effects
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*
  • Streptococcus mutans / drug effects*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Monoterpenes
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Oils
  • Chlorhexidine