Chemical composition, anti-biofilm activity and potential cytotoxic effect on cancer cells of Rosmarinus officinalis L. essential oil from Tunisia

Lipids Health Dis. 2017 Oct 2;16(1):190. doi: 10.1186/s12944-017-0580-9.


Background: Rosmarinus officinalis L. from Tunisia, popularly known as rosemary, is of a considerable importance for its medicinal uses and aromatic value. The aim of this study was to examine the chemical composition of Rosmarinus officinalis essential oil (ROEO) and to evaluate its antibiofilm activity on biofilm-forming bacterium and its anticancer activity on cancer cell lines.

Methods: The chemical composition of Rosmarinus officinalis essential oil (ROEO) was analyzed by GC-MS and its antibacterial activity was evaluated by micro-dilution method. The antibofilm activity of ROEO was evaluated using the crystal violet test and the cytotoxicity activity was determined by the MTT assay.

Results: In this research, thirty-six compounds were identified in ROEO using GC-MS analyses. The main components were 1,8-cineole (23.56%), camphene (12.78%), camphor (12.55%) and β-pinene (12.3%). The antibacterial activity of ROEO was evaluated by micro-dilution method. The oil exhibited inhibition and bactericidal effect against two strains: Staphylococcus aureus ATCC 9144 and Staphylococcus epidermidis S61. It was found that the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) obtained for S. aureus and S. epidermidis ranged from 1.25 to 2.5 and from 0.312 to 0.625 μl ml-1, respectively and the minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC) were in the order of 5 and 2.5 μl ml-1, respectively. Furthermore, this oil showed a S. epidermidis biofilm inhibition more than 57% at a concentration of 25 μl ml-1. The eradication of 67% of the established biofilm was observed at a concentration of 50 μl ml-1 of ROEO, whereas the dose of 25 μl ml-1 removed only 38% of preformed biofilm. ROEO strongly inhibited the proliferation of Hela and MCF-7 cells with IC50 values of 0.011 and 0.253 μl ml-1, respectively.

Conclusion: Our results demonstrate that ROEO could have a potential role in the treatment of diseases related to infection by microorganisms or proliferation of cancer cells.

Keywords: Anti-biofilm; Anti-cancer; Chemical composition; Essential oil; Fluorescent microscopy; Staphylococcus.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / isolation & purification
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bicyclic Monoterpenes
  • Biofilms / drug effects*
  • Biofilms / growth & development
  • Bridged Bicyclo Compounds / isolation & purification
  • Camphor / isolation & purification
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cyclohexane Monoterpenes
  • Cyclohexanols / isolation & purification
  • Eucalyptol
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • MCF-7 Cells
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Monoterpenes / isolation & purification
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry
  • Oils, Volatile / isolation & purification
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Plants, Medicinal
  • Polycyclic Sesquiterpenes
  • Rosmarinus / chemistry*
  • Sesquiterpenes / isolation & purification
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / growth & development
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis / drug effects*
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis / growth & development
  • Terpenes / isolation & purification
  • Tunisia


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Bicyclic Monoterpenes
  • Bridged Bicyclo Compounds
  • Cyclohexane Monoterpenes
  • Cyclohexanols
  • Monoterpenes
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Polycyclic Sesquiterpenes
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • Terpenes
  • beta-pinene
  • gamma-terpinene
  • Camphor
  • camphene
  • Eucalyptol
  • caryophyllene oxide