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Open Access Research article

Evaluation of the cytotoxic effect and antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral activities of Hypericum triquetrifolium Turra essential oils from Tunisia

Zyed Rouis1*, Nabil Abid1, Sadok Koudja2, Thabet Yangui3, Ameur Elaissi4, Pier Luigi Cioni5, Guido Flamini5 and Mahjoub Aouni1

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratoire des Maladies Transmissibles et Substances Biologiquement Actives LR99ES27, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Monastir, Monastir, Tunisia

2 Laboratoire d’Analyse, Traitement et Valorisation des Polluants de l’Environnement et des Produits, Faculté de Pharmacie Rue Avicenne, Monastir 5000, Tunisia

3 Laboratoire des Bioprocédés, Pôle d’Excellence Régionale AUF, (PER-LBP) Centre de Biotechnologie de Sfax, BP: 1177, Sfax 3018, Tunisia

4 Laboratory of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Monastir, Monastir, Tunisia

5 Dipartimento di Chimica Bioorganica e Biofarmacia, Universita’ di Pisa, Via Bonanno 33, Pisa 56126, Italy

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013, 13:24  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-24

Published: 29 January 2013



A number of bio-active secondary metabolites have been identified and reported for several Hypericum species. Many studies have reported the potential use of the plant extracts against several pathogens. However, Hypericum triquetrifolium is one of the least studied species for its antimicrobial activity. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the cytotoxic effect of the essential oils of Hypericum triquetrifolium as well as their antimicrobial potential against coxsakievirus B3 and a range of bacterial and fungal strains.


The essential oils of Hypericum triquetrifolium harvested from five different Tunisian localities (Fondouk DJedid, Bou Arada, Bahra, Fernana and Dhrea Ben Jouder) were evaluated for their antimicrobial activities by micro-broth dilution methods against bacterial and fungal strains. In addition, the cytotoxic effect and the antiviral activity of these oils were carried out using Vero cell lines and coxsakievirus B3.


The results showed a good antibacterial activities against a wide range of bacterial strains, MIC values ranging between 0.39-12.50 mg/ml and MBC values between 1.56-25.0 mg/ml. In addition, the essential oils showed promising antifungal activity with MIC values ranging between 0.39 μg/mL and 12.50 μg/mL; MFC values ranged between 3.12 μg/mL and 25.00 μg/mL; a significant anticandidal activity was noted (MIC values comprised between 0.39 μg/mL and 12.50 μg/mL). Although their low cytotoxic effect (CC50 ranged between 0.58 mg/mL and 12.00 mg/mL), the essential oils did not show antiviral activity against coxsakievirus B3.


The essential oils obtained from Hypericum triquetrifolium can be used as antimicrobial agents and could be safe at non cytotoxic doses. As shown for the tested essential oils, comparative analysis need to be undertaken to better characterize also the antimicrobial activities of Hypericum triquetrifolium extracts with different solvents as well as their purified fractions and their pure secondary metabolites.

Hypericum triquetrifolium; Coxsakievirus B3; Essential oils; Bacteria; Fungi