The in-vitro evaluation of antibacterial, antifungal and cytotoxic properties of Marrubium vulgare L. essential oil grown in Tunisia

Laboratoire de Biochimie et de Génie Enzymatique des Lipases, ENIS, BPW, 1173 Sfax, University of Sfax, Tunisia.
Lipids in Health and Disease (Impact Factor: 2.22). 09/2011; 10(1):161. DOI: 10.1186/1476-511X-10-161
Source: PubMed


In order to validate its antiseptic and anticancer properties with respect to traditional uses, we have screened for the first time the antimicrobial activity of aerial parts of M. vulgare L. essential oil against different pathogenic microorganisms and the cytotoxic activity against HeLa cell lines.
The agar disk diffusion method was used to study the antibacterial activity of M. vulgare essential oil against 12 bacterial and 4 fungi strains. The disc diameters of zone of inhibition (DD), the minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) and the concentration inhibiting 50% (IC50) were investigated to characterize the antimicrobial activities of this essential oil. The in vitro cytotoxicity of M. vulgare essential oil was examined using a modified MTT assay; the viability and the IC50 were used to evaluate this test.
The antimicrobial activity of the essential oil was investigated in order to evaluate its efficacy against the different tested microorganisms. The present results results showed a significant activity against microorganisms especially Gram (+) bacteria with inhibition zones and minimal inhibitory concentration values in the range of 6.6-25.2 mm and 1120-2600 μg/ml, respectively, whereas Gram (-) bacteria exhibited a higher resistance. As far as the antifungal activity, among four strains tested, Botrytis cinerea exhibited the strongest activity with inhibition zones of 12.6 mm. However, Fusarium solani, Penicillium digitatum and Aspergillus niger were less sensitive to M. vulgare essential oil. About the citotoxicity assay, this finding indicate the capability of this essential oil to inhibited the proliferation of HeLa cell lines under some conditions with IC50 value of 0.258 μg/ml.
This investigation showed that the M. vulgare essential oil has a potent antimicrobial activity against some Gram (+) pathogenic bacteria and Botrytis cinerea fungi. The present studies confirm the use of this essential oil as anticancer agent. Further research is required to evaluate the practical values of therapeutic applications.

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    • "Several essential oils have been used as therapeutic agents since ancient times, and some of them have been scientifically proven to possess medicinal properties, including anti-inflammatory (Koudou et al., 2005), antiviral (Loizzoa et al., 2008), antitumor (M'Barek et al., 2007), cytotoxic (Zarai et al., 2011) and antimicrobial activities (Alviano and Alviano, 2009). Essential oils are complex mixtures of volatile, lipophilic and odiferous substances from the secondary metabolism of plants. "
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    • "The resistance of Gramnegative bacteria towards antibacterial substances may be due the presence of outer membrane as a permeability barrier, difficult for compounds diffusion through its lipopolysaccharide membrane (Chew et al., 2011). The absence of this barrier in Gram-positive bacteria allows direct contact of substances with the cell membrane phospholipid layer, thus allowing the increase in ionic permeability and leakage of vital intracellular constituents, or even resulting in its enzymatic systems deficiency (Zarai et al., 2011). The antifungal activity analysis (Table 1) showed good inhibitory potential for crude extracts, with MIC values ranging from 7.81 and 62.5 µg/ml. "
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    • "aeruginosa, K. pneumoniae, E. coli, and Salmonella sp.) exhibited a higher resistance (Zied and others 2011). In addition, this oil was effective against B. cinerea; however, A. niger, Penicillium digitatum, and Fusarium solani were less sensitive (Zied and others 2011). Extracts from this plant are used by Ricola R (Laufen, Switzerland), which is one of the manufacturers of sweets candies made from M. vulgare in conjunction with other medicinal plants (Pimpinella saxifrage, Veronica officinalis, Althaea officinalis , Alchemilla vulgaris, Sambucus nigra Elderberry, Malva sylvestris, Mentha piperita, Salvia officinalis, Achillea millefolium, Primula veris, Plantago lanceolata, and Thymus vulgaris) and exports around 30 different types of candy and herbal teas to over 50 countries. "
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