In Vitro Inhibition of MCF-7 Human Breast Cancer Cells by Essential Oils of Rosmarinus officinalis, Thymus vulgaris L., and Lavender x intermedia

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Seyed Mahdi Tabatabaei
Fatemeh Kianinodeh
Mahdi Nasiri
Nasibeh Tightiz
Maryam Asadipour
Mahshid Gohari


Breast cancer, Rosmarinus officinalis, Thymus vulgaris L., Lavender x intermedia


Background: The essential oils of traditional medicinal plants, including Rosmarinus officinalis, Thymus vulgaris L., and Lavender x intermedia contain anticancer compounds such as lavandulyl acetate, rosmarinic acid and thymol. The aim of this study was to investigate the anticancer effects of the essential oils of R. officinalis, T. vulgaris L., and L. x intermedia on MCF-7 cells.
Methods: Essential oils were prepared from R. officinalis, T. vulgaris L., and L. x intermedia plants. Then, MCF-7 and Hu02 cells were treated with different concentrations of these essential oils for a given time. The 3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay was used to determine the cellular viability and cytotoxicity in response to treatment with different extract concentrations. The morphological changes were studied by Hoechst and propidium iodide staining. The results were analyzed using the one-way ANOVA and Tukey test.
Results: All three essential oils inhibited the viability of the MCF-7 cell line in a dose-dependent manner. T. vulgaris L. was more potent against MCF-7 cells at 400 µg/ml concentration (IC50 = 48.01 ± 0.94), while R. officinalis was moderate at 800 µg/ml concentration (IC50 = 47.39±0.91) and the concentration for L. x intermedia was 400 µg/ml (IC50 = 47.39 ± 0.91).
Conclusion: R. officinalis, T. vulgaris L. and L. x intermedia show cytotoxic activity against breast cancer in vitro. T. vulgaris represents a potentially selective cytostatic factor and a safe target for future development of anticancer agents.


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