Essential oils of culinary herbs and spices display agonist and antagonist activities at human aryl hydrocarbon receptor AhR

Bartoňková I, Dvořák Z
Food Chemistry & Toxicology


ABSTRACT:

Essential oils (EOs) of culinary herbs and spices are used to flavor, color and preserve foods and drinks. Dietary intake of EOs is significant, deserving an attention of toxicologists. We examined the effects of 31 EOs of culinary herbs and spices on the transcriptional activity of human aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), which is a pivotal xenobiotic sensor, having also multiple roles in human physiology. Tested EOs were sorted out into AhR-inactive ones (14 EOs) and AhR-active ones, including full agonists (cumin, jasmine, vanilla, bay leaf), partial agonists (cloves, dill, thyme, nutmeg, oregano) and antagonists (tarragon, caraway, turmeric, lovage, fennel, spearmint, star anise, anise). Major constituents (>10%) of AhR-active EOs were studied in more detail. We identified AhR partial agonists (carvacrol, ligustilide, eugenol, eugenyl acetate, thymol, ar-turmerone) and antagonists (trans-anethole, butylidine phtalide, R/S-carvones, p-cymene), which account for AhR-mediated activities of EOs of fennel, anise, star anise, caraway, spearmint, tarragon, cloves, dill, turmeric, lovage, thyme and oregano. We also show that AhR-mediated effects of some individual constituents of EOs differ from those manifested in mixtures. In conclusion, EOs of culinary herbs and spices are agonists and antagonists of human AhR, implying a potential for food-drug interactions and interference with endocrine pathways.

CITATION:

Bartoňková I, Dvořák Z. Essential oils of culinary herbs and spices display agonist and antagonist activities at human aryl hydrocarbon receptor AhR. Food Chem Toxicol. 2017 Nov 27;111:374-384. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2017.11.049.


 
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