Polyphenols from Cymbopogon citratus leaves as topical anti-inflammatory agents

J Ethnopharmacol. 2016 Feb 3;178:222-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2015.12.016. Epub 2015 Dec 17.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: A variety of plant polyphenols have been reported to have anti-inflammatory, frequently associated with erythema, edema, hyperplasia, skin photoaging and photocarcinogenesis. Cymbopogon citratus (DC). Stapf (Poaceae) is a worldwide known medicinal plant, used in traditional medicine in inflammation-related conditions.

Aim of the study: In this work, the anti-inflammatory potential of C. citratus infusion (CcI) and its polyphenols as topical agents was evaluated in vivo.

Materials and methods: The plant extract was prepared and its fractioning led two polyphenol-rich fractions: flavonoids fraction (CcF) and tannins fraction (CcT). An oil/water emulsion was developed with each active (CcI, CcF+CcT and diclofenac), pH and texture having been evaluated. Release tests were further performed using static Franz diffusion cells and all collected samples were monitored by HPLC-PDA. In vivo topical anti-inflammatory activity evaluation was performed by the carrageenan-induced rat paw edema model.

Results: The texture analysis revealed statistically significant differences for all tested parameters to CcF+CcT, supporting its topical application. Release experiments lead to the detection of the phenolic compounds from each sample in the receptor medium and the six major flavonoids were quantified, by HPLC-PDA: carlinoside, isoorientin, cynaroside, luteolin 7-O-neohesperidoside, kurilesin A and cassiaoccidentalin B. The CcF+CcT formulation prompted to the higher release rate for all these flavonoids. CcI4%, CcI1% and CcF+CcT exhibited an edema reduction of 43.18, 29.55 and 59.09%, respectively.

Conclusions: Our findings highlight that CcI, containing luteolin 7-O-neohesperidoside, cassiaoccidentalin B, carlinoside, cynaroside and tannins have a potential anti-inflammatory topical activity, suggesting their promising application in the treatment of skin inflammatory pathologies.

Keywords: Anti-inflammatory; Cymbopogon citratus; Drug release; Lemongrass; Topical application; in vivo studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cymbopogon / chemistry*
  • Edema / drug therapy
  • Flavonoids / chemistry
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology
  • Inflammation / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Medicine, Traditional / methods
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry*
  • Plants, Medicinal / chemistry
  • Polyphenols / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Tannins / pharmacology


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Flavonoids
  • Plant Extracts
  • Polyphenols
  • Tannins