Inflammation Research

, Volume 49, Issue 11, pp 619–626

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

  • P.H. Hart
  • C. Brand
  • C.F. Carson
  • T.V. Riley
  • R.H. Prager
  • J.J. Finlay-Jones

DOI: 10.1007/s000110050639

Cite this article as:
Hart, P., Brand, C., Carson, C. et al. Inflamm. res. (2000) 49: 619. doi:10.1007/s000110050639

Abstract:

Objective and Design: To evaluate potential anti-inflammatory properties of tea tree oil, the essential oil steam distilled from the Australian native plant, Melaleuca alternifoliaMaterial and Methods: The ability of tea tree oil to reduce the production in vitro of tumour necrosis factor-α (TNFα), interleukin (IL)-1β, 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 TNFα, IL-1β and IL-10 (by approximately 50%) and PGE2 (by approximately 30%) after 40 h. Gas chromatography/ mass spectrometry identified terpinen-4-ol (42%), α-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 TNFα, IL-1β, 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.

Key words:Tea tree oil – Monocytes – Interleukin-1 – Tumour necrosis factor-α– Prostaglandin E2

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • P.H. Hart
    • 1
  • C. Brand
    • 1
  • C.F. Carson
    • 2
  • T.V. Riley
    • 2
  • R.H. Prager
    • 3
  • J.J. Finlay-Jones
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, School of Medicine, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide, 5001, Australia, Fax: 61882768658, e-mail: Prue.Hart@flinders.edu.auAU
  2. 2.Department of Microbiology, University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Australia 6907AU
  3. 3.School of Chemistry, Physics and Earth Sciences, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide, 5001, Australia AU