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. 2017 Mar 3;4:73-77.
doi: 10.1016/j.biopen.2017.02.005. eCollection 2017 Jun.

Anti-inflammatory, Tissue Remodeling, Immunomodulatory, and Anticancer Activities of Oregano ( Origanum vulgare) Essential Oil in a Human Skin Disease Model

Free PMC article

Anti-inflammatory, Tissue Remodeling, Immunomodulatory, and Anticancer Activities of Oregano ( Origanum vulgare) Essential Oil in a Human Skin Disease Model

Xuesheng Han et al. Biochim Open. .
Free PMC article


The use of oregano (Origanum vulgare) essential oil (OEO) has become popular in skin care products. However, scientific research regarding its effects on human skin cells is scarce. In this study, we investigated the biological activity of a commercially available OEO, which is high in carvacrol content, in a human skin cell disease model. OEO induced marked antiproliferative effects and significantly inhibited several inflammatory biomarkers, including monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1), vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1), intracellular cell adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1), interferon gamma-induced protein 10 (IP-10), interferon-inducible T-cell alpha chemoattractant (I-TAC), and monokine induced by gamma interferon (MIG). OEO also significantly inhibited tissue remodeling biomarkers, namely collagen I, collagen III, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), matrix metalloproteinase 1 (MMP-1), plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 (PAI-1), tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase (TIMP) 1 and 2. An immunomodulatory biomarker, macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF), was also strongly inhibited by OEO treatment. In addition, OEO significantly modulated global gene expression and altered signaling pathways, many of which are critical in inflammation, tissue remodeling, and cancer signaling processes. These findings along with existing studies largely support the anti-inflammatory, tissue remodeling, immunomodulatory, and anticancer activities of OEO. In conclusion, this study provides the first evidence of the biological activity of OEO in human dermal fibroblasts. We suggest that OEO, with carvacrol as the major active component, is a promising candidate for use in skin care products with anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties.

Keywords: Anticancer; Antiproliferation; Carvacrol; Monokine induced by gamma interferon; Skin health; Vascular cell adhesion molecule-1.


Fig. 1
Fig. 1
The bioactivity profile of oregano essential oil (OEO; 0.0037%, v/v in dimethyl sulfoxide, DMSO) using the BioMAP System HDF3CGF. The x-axis denotes protein-based biomarker readouts. The y-axis denotes the relative expression levels of biomarkers compared to vehicle control values, in log form. Vehicle control values are shaded in gray, denoting the 95% confidence level. The asterisks (*) indicate the biomarkers designated with “key activity,” i.e., the biomarker values were significantly different (p < 0.05) after cell treatment with 0.0037% OEO, compared to those of vehicle controls, with an effect size of at least 10% (more than 0.05 log ratio units). MCP-1, monocyte chemoattractant protein; VCAM-1, vascular cell adhesion molecule 1; ICAM-1, intracellular cell adhesion molecule 1; IP-10, interferon gamma-induced protein 10; I-TAC, interferon-inducible T-cell alpha chemoattractant; IL-8, interleukin-8; MIG, monokine induced by gamma interferon; EGFR, epidermal growth factor receptor; M-CSF, macrophage colony-stimulating factor; MMP-1, matrix metalloproteinase 1; PAI-1, plasminogen activator inhibitor 1; TIMP, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase.
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
The top 20 canonical pathways matching the gene expression bioactivity profile of oregano essential oil (OEO) in the HDF3CGF system, produced via Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA, Each p-value was calculated with the right-tailed Fisher's Exact Test. The p-value measures the likelihood that the observed association between a specific pathway and the dataset is due to random chance. The smaller the p value (the bigger – ln (p-value), indicated by the black bars) that the pathway has, the more significantly it matches with the bioactivity of OEO. The ratio, indicated by each gray bar, was calculated by taking the number of genes from the OEO dataset that participate in a canonical pathway and dividing it by the total number of genes in that pathway. BRCA1, breast cancer type 1; CHK, checkpoint kinase; p53, tumor protein p53; CDP, cytidine diphosphate.

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