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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Chemical composition, antimicrobial properties and toxicity evaluation of the essential oil of Cupressus lusitanica Mill. leaves from Cameroon

Gerald Ngo Teke1*, Kemadjou Nana Elisée2 and Kuiate Jules Roger2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Bamenda, PO Box 39, Bambili, Cameroon

2 Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science, University of Dschang, PO Box 67, Dschang, Cameroon

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013, 13:130  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-130

Published: 13 June 2013

Abstract

Background

The leaves of Cupressus lusitanica Mill. are used in the western highlands of Cameroon for their medicinal property.

Methods

The leaves of this species were collected in the West Region of Cameroon in August 2010 and subjected to hydrodistillation to obtain the essential oil. The oil was fractionated using adsorption column chromatography. The chemical composition of this oil and its fractions was analysed by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The essential oil and fractions were tested for antimicrobial activity against eight bacterial species and six species of Candida by the agar diffusion method. Macrodilution method was used to determine the minimum inhibition concentrations (MICs) and minimum bactericidal and/or fungicidal concentrations (MBCs and MFCs). The toxicity profile of the oil was studied using Swiss mice and Wistar albino rats.

Results

Forty-nine compounds were identified in the essential oil. The main components were germacrene D (18.5%), epi-zonarene (8.2%), cis-calamenene (8.2%), terpinen-4-ol (6.3%), linalool (6.0%) and umbellulone (6.0%). Enterococcus faecalis, Proteus mirabilis and Candida albicans were most susceptible to the oil (MICs of 1.25 and 0.16% for bacteria and fungi respectively). The estimated oral LD50 was 6.33 g/kg. There was an increase in sera ALT and AST activities while the blood cells and protein levels decreased in treated animals.

Conclusion

The results obtained from this study support the ethnomedicinal use of C. lusitanica leaf oil in the treatment of whooping cough and skin infections though it should be used with care. This plant oil could be useful in the standardisation of phytomedicine.

Keywords:
Cupressus lusitanica; Essential oil; Chemical composition; Antimicrobial activity; Toxicity