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Terpinen-4-ol, the main component of the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree oil), suppresses inflammatory mediator production by activated human monocytes.

Author

Hart PH, Brand C, Carson CF, Riley TV, Prager RH, Finlay-Jones JJ.

Date

11/2000

Journal

Inflamm Res

Abstract

OBJECTIVE AND DESIGN: To evaluate potential antiinflammatory properties of tea tree oil, the essential oil steam distilled from the Australian native plant, Melaleuca alternifolia. MATERIAL AND METHODS: The ability of tea tree oil to reduce the production in vitro of tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNFalpha), interleukin (IL)-1beta, IL-8, IL-10 and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) by lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-activated human peripheral blood monocytes was examined. RESULTS: Tea tree oil emulsified by sonication in a glass tube into culture medium containing 10% fetal calf serum (FCS) was toxic for monocytes at a concentration of 0.016% v/v. However, the water soluble components of tea tree oil at concentrations equivalent to 0.125% significantly suppressed LPS-induced production of TNFalpha, IL-1beta and IL-10 (by approximately 50%) and PGE2 (by approximately 30%) after 40 h. Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry identified terpinen-4-ol (42 %), a-terpineol (3 %) and 1,8-cineole (2%, respectively, of tea tree oil) as the water soluble components of tea tree oil. When these components were examined individually, only terpinen-4-ol suppressed the production after 40 h of TNFalpha, IL-1beta, IL-8, IL-10 and PGE2 by LPS-activated monocytes. CONCLUSION: The water-soluble components of tea tree oil can suppress pro-inflammatory mediator production by activated human monocytes.

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