Anticancer and antibacterial effects of a clove bud essential oil-based nanoscale emulsion system

Int J Nanomedicine. 2019 Aug 12;14:6439-6450. doi: 10.2147/IJN.S211047. eCollection 2019.


Background and purpose: The essential oil derived from clove buds (Syzygium aromaticum) has been used as a chemopreventive agent in Ayurvedic medicine. The antiviral, antibacterial, and anticancer properties of its chemo-skeleton have motivated this study to explore its efficacy in pharmaceutics.

Methods: Nanoscale-based emulsions were prepared by employing a spontaneous emulsification technique through self-assembly using varying concentrations of Tween 20 and Tween 80 surfactants. Their physicochemical properties and stability were studied in order to choose an optimum formulation which was clear and stable. The cytotoxicity of the stable oil-based emulsion system was evaluated using MTT assay, colony formation assay, and Annexin V-FITC assay against the thyroid cancer cell line (HTh-7).

Results: All three methods verified apoptosis and reduction in cancer cell proliferation, making the formulation a promising candidate as an alternative cancer drug. The oil-based emulsion system was also tested for its antibacterial properties against Staphylococcus aureus. Membrane permeability studies proved its efficacy to permeate through cell membrane, thereby increasing the leakage of cytoplasmic contents.

Conclusion: Many current treatments for cancers are aggressive yet ineffective. This study positions the clove bud-based nanoscale emulsion as a suitable candidate for further in vivo studies and trials as a cancer drug.

Keywords: antibacterial activity; apoptosis; clove bud oil; nanoscale emulsion system; thyroid cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Membrane Permeability / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Drug Compounding
  • Emulsions
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects
  • Surface-Active Agents / chemistry
  • Syzygium / chemistry*
  • Viscosity


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Emulsions
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Surface-Active Agents