Determination of the effects of cinnamon bark fractions on Candida albicans and oral epithelial cells

BMC Complement Altern Med. 2019 Nov 8;19(1):303. doi: 10.1186/s12906-019-2730-2.


Background: Candida albicans is an opportunistic pathogen that causes oral candidiasis and denture stomatitis. It has also been reported to infect oral mucositis lesions in patients who suffer from cancer affecting the head and neck and who receive chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments. This study aimed to investigate the effects of two cinnamon bark fractions, i.e., an essential oil and an aqueous extract enriched in proanthocyanidins (Cinnulin PF®) on growth, biofilm formation, and adherence properties of C. albicans as well as on oral epithelial cells (barrier integrity, inflammatory response).

Methods: A microplate dilution assay was used to determine antifungal and anti-biofilm properties. A fluorescent assay was used to determine C. albicans adherence to oral epithelial cells. Cytotoxicity toward oral epithelial cells was assessed by determination of cell metabolic activity. Tight junction integrity of gingival keratinocytes was assessed by determination of transepithelial electrical resistance. IL-6 and IL-8 secretion by TNFα-stimulated oral epithelial cells was quantified by ELISA.

Results: While Cinnulin PF® did not reduce C. albicans growth, the cinnamon bark oil exhibited high antifungal activity with minimum inhibitory concentrations and minimum fungicidal concentrations in the range of 0.039 to 0.078%. The cinnamon oil was also active against a pre-formed C. albicans biofilm. Interestingly, Cinnulin PF® prevented biofilm formation by C. albicans and attenuated its adherence to oral epithelial cells. At their effective concentrations, the cinnamon oil and the Cinnulin PF® displayed no significant cytotoxicity against oral epithelial cells. In an in vitro model, both cinnamon fractions reinforced the integrity of the oral epithelial barrier. Lastly, Cinnulin PF® inhibited the secretion of interleukin-6 and interleukin-8 by oral epithelial cells stimulated with TNF-α.

Conclusion: By their ability to attenuate growth, biofilm formation and adherence property of C. albicans, to reinforce the epithelial barrier function, and to exert anti-inflammatory properties the two cinnamon fractions (essential oil, Cinnulin PF®) investigated in the present study may be promising agents for treating oral infections involving C. albicans.

Keywords: Biofilm; Candida albicans; Cinnamon; Epithelial cells; Essential oil; Polyphenols.

MeSH terms

  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacology*
  • Biofilms / drug effects
  • Candida albicans / drug effects*
  • Candida albicans / growth & development
  • Candida albicans / physiology
  • Candidiasis, Oral / drug therapy
  • Candidiasis, Oral / microbiology*
  • Cell Line
  • Cinnamomum zeylanicum / chemistry*
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Interleukin-8 / metabolism
  • Mouth / metabolism
  • Mouth / microbiology*
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Plant Bark / chemistry


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Interleukin-6
  • Interleukin-8
  • Oils, Volatile
  • cinnamon oil, bark