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Open Access Open Badges Research article

The plant coumarins auraptene and lacinartin as potential multifunctional therapeutic agents for treating periodontal disease

Annie Marquis1, Salvatore Genovese2, Francesco Epifano2 and Daniel Grenier1*

Author Affiliations

1 Groupe de Recherche en Écologie Buccale, Faculté de Médecine Dentaire, Université Laval, 2420 Rue de la Terrasse, Quebec City,, QC, Canada, G1V 0A6

2 Dipartimento di Science del Farmaco, Università G. D'Annunzio, Via Dei Vestini 31, 66013, Chieti Scalo, Chieti,, Italy

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012, 12:80  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-80

Published: 28 June 2012



Periodontal diseases are bacterial infections leading to chronic inflammation disorders that are frequently observed in adults. In the present study, we evaluated the effect of auraptene and lacinartin, two natural oxyprenylated coumarins, on the growth, adherence properties, and collagenase activity of Porphyromonas gingivalis. We also investigated the capacity of these compounds to reduce cytokine and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) secretion by lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated macrophages and to inhibit MMP-9 activity.


Microplate dilution assays were performed to determine the effect of auraptene and lacinartin on P. gingivalis growth as well as biofilm formation stained with crystal violet. Adhesion of FITC-labeled P. gingivalis to oral epithelial cells was monitored by fluorometry. The effects of auraptene and lacinartin on LPS-induced cytokine and MMP secretion by macrophages were determined by immunological assays. Fluorogenic assays were used to evaluate the capacity of the two coumarins to inhibit the activity of P. gingivalis collagenase and MMP-9.


Only lacinartin completely inhibited P. gingivalis growth in a complex culture medium. However, under iron-limiting conditions, auraptene and lacinartin both inhibited the growth of P. gingivalis. Lacinartin also inhibited biofilm formation by P. gingivalis and promoted biofilm desorption. Both compounds prevented the adherence of P. gingivalis to oral epithelial cells, dose-dependently reduced the secretion of cytokines (IL-8 and TNF-α) and MMP-8 and MMP-9 by LPS-stimulated macrophages, and inhibited MMP-9 activity. Lacinartin also inhibited P. gingivalis collagenase activity.


By acting on multiple targets, including pathogenic bacteria, tissue-destructive enzymes, and the host inflammatory response, auraptene and lacinartin may be promising natural compounds for preventing and treating periodontal diseases.

Coumarins; Auraptene; Lacinartin; Antibacterial; Anti-adherence; Anti-inflammatory