Mutagenicity testing (+/-)-camphor, 1,8-cineole, citral, citronellal, (-)-menthol and terpineol with the Salmonella/microsome assay

Mutat Res. 1998 Aug 7;416(1-2):129-36. doi: 10.1016/s1383-5718(98)00077-1.


The essential oils and their monoterpenoid constituents have been widely used as fragrances in cosmetics, as flavouring food additives, as scenting agents in a variety of household products, as active ingredients in some old drugs, and as intermediates in the synthesis of perfume chemicals. The present study was undertaken to investigate the mutagenic potential of six monoterpenoid compounds: two aldehydes (citral and citronellal), a ketone ((+/-)-camphor), an oxide (1,8-cineole, also known as eucalyptol), and two alcohols (terpineol and (-)-menthol). It is part of a more comprehensive toxicological screening of monoterpenes under way at our laboratory. Mutagenicity was evaluated by the Salmonella/microsome assay (TA97a, TA98, TA100 and TA102 tester strains), without and with addition of an extrinsic metabolic activation system (lyophilized rat liver S9 fraction induced by Aroclor 1254). In all cases, the upper limit of the dose interval tested was either the highest non-toxic dose or the lowest dose of the monoterpene toxic to TA100 strain in the preliminary toxicity test. No mutagenic effect was found with (+/-) camphor, citral, citronellal, 1,8-cineole, and (-) menthol. Terpineol caused a slight but dose-related increase in the number of his+ revertants with TA102 tester strain both without and with addition of S9 mixture. The results from this study therefore suggest that, with the exception of terpineol, the monoterpenoid compounds tested are not mutagenic in the Ames test.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acyclic Monoterpenes
  • Aldehydes / pharmacokinetics
  • Aldehydes / toxicity
  • Animals
  • Biotransformation
  • Camphor / pharmacokinetics
  • Camphor / toxicity
  • Cyclohexane Monoterpenes
  • Cyclohexanols*
  • Cyclohexenes
  • Eucalyptol
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Menthol / analogs & derivatives
  • Menthol / pharmacokinetics
  • Menthol / toxicity
  • Microsomes, Liver / metabolism
  • Monoterpenes*
  • Mutagenicity Tests / methods
  • Mutagens / pharmacokinetics
  • Mutagens / toxicity*
  • Rats
  • Salmonella typhimurium / drug effects
  • Salmonella typhimurium / genetics
  • Terpenes / pharmacokinetics
  • Terpenes / toxicity*


  • Acyclic Monoterpenes
  • Aldehydes
  • Cyclohexane Monoterpenes
  • Cyclohexanols
  • Cyclohexenes
  • Monoterpenes
  • Mutagens
  • Terpenes
  • Menthol
  • alpha-terpineol
  • Camphor
  • citronellal
  • Eucalyptol
  • citral