Structurally Related Monoterpenes p-Cymene, Carvacrol and Thymol Isolated from Essential Oil from Leaves of Lippia sidoides Cham. (Verbenaceae) Protect Mice against Elastase-Induced Emphysema

Molecules. 2016 Oct 20;21(10):1390. doi: 10.3390/molecules21101390.


Background: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by irreversible airflow obstruction and inflammation. Natural products, such as monoterpenes, displayed anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant activities and can be used as a source of new compounds to COPD treatment. Our aim was to evaluate, in an elastase-induced pulmonary emphysema in mice, the effects of and underlying mechanisms of three related natural monoterpenes (p-cymene, carvacrol and thymol) isolated from essential oil from leaves Lippia sidoides Cham. (Verbenaceae).

Methods: Mices received porcine pancreatic elastase (PPE) and were treated with p-cymene, carvacrol, thymol or vehicle 30 min later and again on 7th, 14th and 28th days. Lung inflammatory profile and histological sections were evaluated.

Results: In the elastase-instilled animals, the tested monoterpenes reduced alveolar enlargement, macrophages and the levels of IL-1β, IL-6, IL-8 and IL-17 in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF), and collagen fibers, MMP-9 and p-65-NF-κB-positive cells in lung parenchyma (p < 0.05). All treatments attenuated levels of 8-iso-PGF2α but only thymol was able to reduced exhaled nitric oxide (p < 0.05).

Conclusion: Monoterpenes p-cymene, carvacrol and thymol reduced lung emphysema and inflammation in mice. No significant differences among the three monoterpenes treatments were found, suggesting that the presence of hydroxyl group in the molecular structure of thymol and carvacrol do not play a central role in the anti-inflammatory effects.

Keywords: COPD; carvacrol; elastase-induced emphysema; lung inflammation; monoterpenes; p-cymene; thymol.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / immunology
  • Cymenes
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Emphysema / chemically induced
  • Emphysema / drug therapy*
  • Emphysema / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Interleukins / metabolism*
  • Lippia / chemistry*
  • Macrophages, Alveolar / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Monoterpenes / administration & dosage*
  • Monoterpenes / chemistry
  • Monoterpenes / isolation & purification
  • Monoterpenes / pharmacology
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry
  • Pancreatic Elastase / adverse effects*
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry
  • Thymol / administration & dosage
  • Thymol / chemistry
  • Thymol / isolation & purification
  • Thymol / pharmacology


  • Cymenes
  • Interleukins
  • Monoterpenes
  • Oils, Volatile
  • 4-cymene
  • Thymol
  • carvacrol
  • Pancreatic Elastase