Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Limonene in the Prevention and Control of Injuries in the Respiratory System: A Systematic Review

Curr Pharm Des. 2020;26(18):2182-2191. doi: 10.2174/1381612826666200320130443.


Introduction: The pulmonary inflammatory response results from exposure to injurious factors and is associated with oxidative stress, which intensifies the pathological reaction. In this context, limonene, a monoterpene found in citrus fruits, can be a therapeutic alternative for the treatment of this pathology, as it presents known anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions.

Objective: The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the anti-inflammatory activity of limonene and its capacity to prevent and control respiratory system injuries.

Search strategy: A comprehensive literature search of the Cochrane, Scopus, MEDLINE-PubMed, Web of Science, and Lilacs databases was performed using the keywords: "limonene", "lung", "pulmonary", "airway", "trachea", "lung injury", "respiratory system", "respiratory tract diseases".

Selection criteria: Studies on the use of limonene in disorders of the respiratory system, published until August 2019, were included. Those that did not use limonene alone or treated lesions in different systems other than the respiratory system, without targeting its anti-inflammatory action were excluded. In addition, review articles, meta-analyses, abstracts, conference papers, editorials/letters and case reports were also excluded.

Results: Of the 561 articles found, 64 were in the Cochrane database, 235 in Scopus, 99 in Web of science, 150 in PubMed and 13 in Lilacs. After completing the systematic steps, 25 articles were selected for full reading, after which 7 papers remained in the review. An article was added after a manual literature search, resulting in a total of 8 papers. There was a high level of agreement on inclusion/exclusion among the researchers who examined the papers (Kappa index > 88%).

Conclusion: Limonene has effective anti-inflammatory activity in both preventing and controlling respiratory system injuries.

Keywords: Lilacs databases; Limonene; anti-inflammatory; antioxidant; respiratory system; systematic review..

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents* / pharmacology
  • Limonene / chemistry
  • Limonene / pharmacology
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Monoterpenes
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Respiratory System*
  • Terpenes / chemistry
  • Terpenes / pharmacology


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Monoterpenes
  • Terpenes
  • Limonene