Acetylcholinesterase inhibitory activity and chemical composition of commercial essential oils

Dohi S, Terasaki M, Makino M
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2009


Commercially available essential oils extracted from Artemisia dracunculus L., Inula graveolensL., Lavandula officinalis Chaix, and Ocimum sanctum L. and the components of these oils were screened by the microplate assay method for determining their acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitory activity. The composition profiles of the oils were characterized by gas chromatography−mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis, and the relationships between the oil components and the AChE inhibitory activity of the oils were outlined. The results showed that all of the oils, except that of A. dracunculus from Hungary, exhibited AChE inhibitory activity, and the A. dracunculus oil from France showed the most potent inhibitory activity [50% inhibition concentration (IC50) = 0.058 mg/mL]. The AChE inhibitory activity of I. graveolens oil has not been reported to date, and this study is the first to reveal this activity in the oil. Among the essential oil components, five components, namely, 1,8-cineole, α-pinene, eugenol, α-terpineol, and terpinen-4-ol, showed AChE inhibitory activity, with IC50 values of 0.015, 0.022, 0.48, 1.3, and 3.2 mg/mL, respectively. Eugenol, in particular, was found to be a potent AChE inhibitor along with determination of the IC50 value, a finding that has been reported for the first time in this study. However, the ratio of the contribution of the active components, including a novel AChE inhibitor, to the observed AChE inhibitory activity of the essential oils was not very high. The results of this study raise concerns about the AChE inhibitory activity of widely produced and readily accessible commercial essential oils.


Dohi S, Terasaki M, Makino M. Acetylcholinesterase inhibitory activity and chemical composition of commercial essential oils. J Agric Food Chem. 2009;57(10):4313-4318.

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