Citral, a component of lemongrass oil, activates PPARα and γ and suppresses COX-2 expression

Katsukawa M, Nakata R, Takizawa Y, Hori K, Takahashi S, Inoue H
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids, 2010


Lemongrass is a widely used herb as a food flavoring, as a perfume, and for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory purposes; however, the molecular mechanisms of these effects have not been elucidated. Previously, we identified carvacrol from the essential oil of thyme as a suppressor of cyclooxygenase (COX)-2, a key enzyme for prostaglandin synthesis, and also an activator of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR), a molecular target for “lifestyle-related” diseases. In this study, we evaluated the essential oil of lemongrass using our established assays for COX-2 and PPARs. We found that COX-2 promoter activity was suppressed by lemongrass oil in cell-based transfection assays, and we identified citral as a major component in the suppression of COX-2 expression and as an activator of PPARα and γ. PPARγ-dependent suppression of COX-2 promoter activity was observed in response to citral treatment. In human macrophage-like U937 cells, citral suppressed both LPS-induced COX-2 mRNA and protein expression, dose-dependently. Moreover, citral induced the mRNA expression of the PPARα-responsive carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1 gene and the PPARγ-responsive fatty acid binding protein 4 gene, suggesting that citral activates PPARα and γ, and regulates COX-2 expression. These results are important for understanding the anti-inflammatory and anti-lifestyle-related disease properties of lemongrass.


Katsukawa M, Nakata R, Takizawa Y, et al. Citral, a component of lemongrass oil, activates PPARα and γ and suppresses COX-2 expression. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2010;1801(11):1214-1220.

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