Antimicrobial and Cytotoxic Activities of Origanum Essential Oils.

Antimicrobial and Cytotoxic Activities of Origanum Essential Oils.

Author Information

Afroditi Sivropoulou, Eleni Papanikolaou, Constantina Nikolaou, Stella Kokkini, Thomas Lanaras, Minas Arsenakis.1

1Laboratory of General Microbiology, Section of Genetics, Development and Molecular Biology, and Laboratory of Systematic Botany and Phytogeography, Section of Botany, School of Biology, Aristotle University, Thessaloniki 54006, Greece


Three Origanum essential oils, Origanum vulgare ssp. hirtum, Origanum dictamnus, and a commercially available Origanum oil, were analyzed by gas chromatography−mass spectrometry (GC−MS) and showed a high content of carvacrol, thymol, γ-terpinene, and p-cymene representing 73.7%, 92.8%, and 87.78% of the total oil, respectively. The three essential oils exhibited high levels of antimicrobial activity against eight strains of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. Among the major components of the three oils, carvacrol and thymol exhibited the highest levels of antimicrobial activity, while their biosynthetic precursors γ-terpinene and p-cymene were inactive. The essential oil of O. vulgare ssp. hirtum was extremely bactericidal at 1/4000 dilution and even at dilutions as high as 1/50000 caused a considerable decrease in bacterial growth rates. The same essential oil also exhibited high levels of cytotoxicity against four permanent animal cell lines including two derived from human cancers.

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