Antioxidative and Cholesterol-Lowering Effects of Lemon Essential Oil in Hypercholesterolemia-Induced Rabbits

Prev Nutr Food Sci. 2018 Mar;23(1):8-14. doi: 10.3746/pnf.2018.23.1.8. Epub 2018 Mar 31.


The cholesterol-lowering and anti-atherogenic effects of lemon essential oil (LEO) were investigated and compared with the effects of limonene. Owing to their volatility, both LEO and limonene were microencapsulated before preparation of the diet (20%, w/w). Hypercholesterolemia-induced rabbits were divided into 3 groups based on plasma total cholesterol (TC) levels and fed coating matrix (control group), LEO (LEO group), or limonene (Limonene group) for 8 weeks. LEO dose-dependently inhibited low-density lipoprotein oxidation in vitro. Plasma TC levels were the lowest in the LEO group (P<0.05). Erythrocytes in the LEO group had a normal disc shape, whereas the erythrocytes in the limonene and control groups were aggregated and star-shaped, respectively. The aortic intima thickness was thinnest in the LEO group followed by the control and limonene groups. Plasma TC lowering and anti-atherogenic effects of LEO were greater than limonene, suggesting that other bioactive compounds besides limonene in LEO might contribute to these effects. The bioactive compounds in LEO were limonene (67.57%), β-pinene (10.00%), and γ-terpinene (9.95%). In addition, sabinene, α-pinene, myrcene, and geranial were also present but the amount was in the range of 1~2%. Several bioactive compounds were also detected. In conclusion, LEO had beneficial effects on hypercholesterolemia due to its antioxidative and cholesterol lowering effects.

Keywords: antioxidant; hypercholesterolemia; lemon essential oil; limonene; lipid lowering.