In Vitro Anti-Inflammatory and Anticancer Evaluation of Mentha spicata L. and Matricaria chamomilla L. Essential Oils

ACS Omega. 2023 May 6;8(19):17143-17150. doi: 10.1021/acsomega.3c01501. eCollection 2023 May 16.


Spearmint, Mentha spicata L., and the German chamomile, Matricaria chamomilla L., preparations are used against inflammatory conditions traditionally and in modern medicinal applications. This present study aimed to evaluate pharma-grade essential oils for their in vitro anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects using COX-1, COX-2, and 5-LOX enzyme assays, as well as their apoptosis potential through the caspase pathway. In addition, the (3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5 diphenyl tetrazolium bromide) (MTT) assay was applied to evaluate the in vitro cytotoxic effects using HEK293/A549, MCF7, and PC3 cell lines. Major components of M. spicata essential oil were confirmed both by gas chromatography (GC)-flame ionization detector (FID) and GC/mass spectrometry (MS) as 72.8% carvone, 12.6% limonene, 2.2% 1,8-cineole, 1.3% myrcene, and 1% trans-dihydrocarvone. The major components of M. chamomilla essential oil were also confirmed as 47.9% α-bisabolol oxide A, 16.8% α-bisabolol, 13.8%, (Z)-β-farnesene, 5.8% α-bisabolol oxide, and 4.7% α-bisabolene oxide A. The IC50 values for M. chamomilla essential oil on A549, MCF7, PC3, and HEK293 cells were calculated as 208.54 ± 1.39, 315.44 ± 1.17, 197.52 ± 0.98, and 638.79 ± 1.15 μg/mL, respectively, whereas the IC50 values for M. spicata essential oil on A549, MCF7, and PC3 cells were 672.13 ± 2.57, 708.27 ± 2.05, and 206.49 ± 1.48 μg/mL, respectively. For M. spicata essential oil, no cytotoxic effects on healthy HEK293 cells were observed at the tested concentrations. The essential oils increased the apoptotic activity, where all results were statistically significant. According to the anti-inflammatory evaluation, both M. chamomilla and M. spicata oils showed selective COX-2 inhibitions, where the SI values were calculated as 0.30 and 0.67, respectively. Overall, both M. spicata and M. chamomilla essential oils showed selective inhibition on the COX-2 enzyme and apoptosis against the selected cancer cell lines for the first time, to the best of our knowledge, with this specific dual mode of action. The initial results encourage further detailed in vivo experimental evaluations.