Chemical composition, antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcus aureus and a pro-apoptotic effect in SGC-7901 of the essential oil from Toona sinensis (A. Juss.) Roem. leaves

Jian Guo Wu, Wei Peng, Jun Yi, Yan Bin Wu, Ti Qiang Chen, Ka Hing Wong, Jin Zhong Wu

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Ethnopharmacological relevance Leaves of Toona sinensis (A. Juss.) Roem. (TSL), a popular vegetable in China, have anti-inflammatory, antidoting, and worm-killing effects and are used in folk medicine for the treatment of enteritis, dysentery, carbuncles, boils, and especially abdominal tumors. Our aim was to investigate the in vitro antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcus aureus and anticancer property of the essential oil from TSL (TSL-EO), especially the pro-apoptotic effect in SGC-7901. Materials and methods TSL-EO obtained by hydrodistillation was analyzed by GC/MS and was tested in vitro against twenty clinically isolated strains of Staphylococcus aureus (SA 1-20), which were either methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and two standard strains viz. ATCC 25923 and ATCC 43300. The anticancer activity of TSL-EO was evaluated in vitro against HepG2, SGC7901, and HT29 through MTT assay. Moreover, the apoptosis-inducing activity of TSL-EO in SGC7901 cells was determined by Hoechst 33324 staining and flow cytometry methods. Also, the apoptosis-related proteins viz. Bax, Bcl-2 and caspase-3 were detected by western-blotting. Results GC-MS analysis showed that TSL-EO contained a high amount of sesquiterpenes (84.64%), including copaene (8.27%), β-caryophyllene (10.16%), caryophyllene (13.18%) and β-eudesmene (5.06%). TSL-EO inhibited the growth of both MSSA and MRSA, with the lowest MIC values of 0.125 and 1 mg/ml, respectively. Treatment with TSL-EO for 24 h could significantly suppress the viability of three different cancer cell lines (P<0.05). Furthermore, the apoptosis-inducing activity of TSL-EO in SGC7901 cells increased in a dose-dependent manner, potentially resulting from the up-regulated expression of Bax, caspase-3 and down-regulated expression of Bcl-2. Conclusions TSL-EO possessed antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus and significant cytotoxicity against cancer cells and particularly prominent pro-apoptotic activity in SGC7901 cells. These bioactivities were probably due to the high content of sesquiterpenes. Our results suggested that TSL-EO possessed potential health benefits and could serve as a promising natural food addictive.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-205
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Ethnopharmacology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2014


  • Anti-Staphlococcal activity
  • Apoptosis
  • Cytotoxicity
  • Essential oil
  • Sesquiterpene
  • Toona sinensis (A. Juss.) Roem.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery

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