The effects of clary sage (Salvia sclarea L.) oil (CS-oil), and its two main components, linalool (Lol) and linalyl acetate (LA), on cells of the eukaryotic human pathogen yeast Candida albicans were studied. Dynamic and thermodynamic properties of the plasma membrane were investigated by electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy, with 5-doxylstearic acid (5-SASL) and 16-SASL as spin labels. The monitoring of the head group regions with 5-SASL revealed break-point frequency decrease in a temperature dependent manner of the plasma membrane between 9.55 and 13.15 °C in untreated, in CS-oil-, Lol- and LA-treated membranes. The results suggest a significant increase in fluidity of the treated plasma membranes close to the head groups. Comparison of the results observed with the two spin labels demonstrated that CS-oil and LA induced an increased level of fluidization at both depths of the plasma membrane. Whereas Lol treatment induced a less (1 %) ordered bilayer organization in the superficial regions and an increased (10 %) order of the membrane leaflet in deeper layers. Acute toxicity tests and EPR results indicated that both the apoptotic and the effects exerted on the plasma membrane fluidity depended on the composition and chemical structure of the examined materials. In comparison with the control, treatment with CS-oil, Lol or LA induced 13.0, 12.3 and 26.4 % loss respectively, of the metabolites absorbing at 260 nm, as a biological consequence of the plasma membrane fluidizing effects. Our results confirmed that clary sage oil causes plasma membrane perturbations which leads to cell apoptosis process.
Keywords: Candida albicans; Clary sage; Linalool; Linalyl acetate; Phase-transition temperature; Plasma membrane.