The essential oil of juniper berries (Juniperus communis L., Cupressaceae) is traditionally used for medicinal and flavoring purposes. As elucidated by gas chromatography/flame ionization detector (GC/FID) and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS methods), the juniper berry oil from Bulgaria is largely comprised of monoterpene hydrocarbons such as α-pinene (51.4%), myrcene (8.3%), sabinene (5.8%), limonene (5.1%) and β-pinene (5.0%). The antioxidant capacity of the essential oil was evaluated in vitro by 2,2-Diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) scavenging, 2,2-azino-bis-3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6 sulfonic acid (ABTS) radical cation scavenging, hydroxyl radical (ОН(•)) scavenging and chelating capacity, superoxide radical ((•)O₂(-)) scavenging and xanthine oxidase inhibitory effects, hydrogen peroxide scavenging. The antioxidant activity of the oil attributable to electron transfer made juniper berry essential oil a strong antioxidant, whereas the antioxidant activity attributable to hydrogen atom transfer was lower. Lipid peroxidation inhibition by the essential oil in both stages, i.e., hydroperoxide formation and malondialdehyde formation, was less efficient than the inhibition by butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT). In vivo studies confirmed these effects of the oil which created the possibility of blocking the oxidation processes in yeast cells by increasing activity of the antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and glutathione peroxidase (GPx).
Keywords: GC/MS; Juniperus communis; Saccharomyces cerevisiae; antioxidant; antioxidant enzymes; juniper essential oil.