Keywords: Toxicity, essential oils, MTT, plant, phytomedicine.


Background: Part of the research process focused on discovering natural medicines is the study of products derived from plants, which may be toxic to humans. Animal-based test methods can be relatively expensive, low-throughput and associated with animal suffering, and differences in animal species may difficult to infer human health effects. Methods based on living cells are recommended. Objectives: To study the tendency to toxicity of essential oils (EOs) from plants of Colombia using a cell-based assay. Methods: EOs from different species (n = 18) of plants were included. The MTT assay was used on six human and animal cell lines derived from normal and cancerous organs, which were treated before and after proliferation. The EOs were arranged in the order of a hierarchical clustering based on their CC50 values, and the sum of weighted hierarchy across cell panel (ΣiWH) was used as the similarity metric. The greater the value of ΣiWH lesser tendency to toxicity. Results: The EOs, which showed CC50 values > 200 μg/mL in at least five experimental conditions presented ΣiWH values > 5,0 suggesting lower tendency to toxicity, and they were in descending order (ΣiWH in parentheses), as follows: Calycolpus moritzianus (O.Berg) Burret (9,7) < Psidium sartorianum (O. Berg) Nied. 1893 (8,9) < Wedelia calcycina (6,5) < Lippia micromera Schauer (6,2) ≈ Piper haltonii Jacq. (6,2) The EOs, which showed CC50 < 100 µg/mL in four or more experimental conditions presented ΣiWH values < 4.0 suggesting higher tendency to toxicity, and they were in ascending order, as follows: Tagetes caracasana Kunth (2,7 – 2,8) > Chromolaena odorata (L.) R.M.King & H.Rob. (3,0) > Ageratina aff. popayanensis (Hieron.) R.M.King & H.Rob. (3,1) > Lantana colombiana López-Pal. (3,3) > Turnera diffusa (3,4). EO from Tagetes caracasana Kunth presented relevant antiproliferative activity (CI50: < 50.0 µg/mL) on cells from human cervical carcinoma. Conclusions: The methodological approach allows identifying EOs with lower and higher tendency to toxicity. Data generated may be valuable for predicting in vivo toxicity and for prioritizing samples for further studies.
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Author Biographies

Sindi Alejandra VELANDIA, Universidad Industrial de Santander (UIS)
Centro Nacional de Investigaciones para la Agroindustrialización de Especies Vegetales Aromáticas Medicinales Tropicales (CENIVAM), Centro de Investigaciones en Enfermedades Tropicales (CINTROP), Parque Tecnológico de Guatiguará, BSc
María Camila FLECHAS, Universidad Industrial de Santander (UIS)
Centro Nacional de Investigaciones para la Agroindustrialización de Especies Vegetales Aromáticas Medicinales Tropicales (CENIVAM), Centro de Investigaciones en Enfermedades Tropicales (CINTROP), Parque Tecnológico de Guatiguará, MSc
Elena E. STASHENKO, Universidad Industrial de Santander
Centro de Investigación en Biomoléculas (CIBIMOL), PhD
Raquel Elvira OCAZIONEZ JÍMENEZ, Docente titular. Universidad Industrial de Santander
Departamento de ciencias básicas.


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