Singlet oxygen scavenging activity and cytotoxicity of essential oils from rutaceae

Ao Y, Satoh K, Shibano K, Kawahito Y, Shioda S
Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition, 2008


Since we have been exposed to excessive amounts of stressors, aromatherapy for the relaxation has recently become very popular recently. However, there is a problem which responds to light with the essential oil used by aromatherapy. It is generally believed that singlet oxygen is implicated in the pathogenesis of various diseases such as light-induced skin disorders and inflammatory responses. Here we studied whether essential oils can effectively scavenge singlet oxygen upon irradiation, using the electron spin resonance (ESR) method. Green light was used to irradiate twelve essential oils from rutaceae. Among these twelve essential oils, eight were prepared by the expression (or the compression) method (referred to as E oil), and four samples were prepared by the steam distillation method (referred to as SD oil). Five E oils enhanced singlet oxygen production. As these essential oils may be phototoxic, it should be used for their use whit light. Two E oils and three SD oils showed singlet oxygen scavenging activity. These results may suggest that the antioxidant activity of essential oils are judged from their radical scavenging activity. Essential oils, which enhance the singlet oxygen production and show higher cytotoxicity, may contain much of limonene. These results suggest that limonene is involved not only in the enhancement of singlet oxygen production but also in the expression of cytotoxic activity, and that attention has to be necessary for use of blended essential oils.


Ao Y, Satoh K, Shibano K, et al. Singlet oxygen scavenging activity and cytotoxicity of essential oils from rutaceae. J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2008;43(1):6-12.

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