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Inflammation Research

, Volume 50, Issue 4, pp 213–219 | Cite as

The water-soluble components of the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree oil) suppress the production of superoxide by human monocytes, but not neutrophils, activated in vitro

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

Abstract:

Objective: To evaluate the regulatory properties of the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree oil) on the production of oxygen derived reactive species by human peripheral blood leukocytes activated in vitro.¶Materials and methods: The ability of tea tree oil to reduce superoxide production by neutrophils and monocytes stimulated with N-formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (fMLP), lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) was examined.¶Results: The water-soluble fraction of tea tree oil had no significant effect on agonist-stimulated superoxide production by neutrophils, but significantly and dose-dependently suppressed agonist-stimulated superoxide production by monocytes. This suppression was not due to cell death. Chemical analysis identified the water-soluble components to be terpinen-4-ol, α-terpineol and 1,8-cineole. When examined individually, terpinen-4-ol significantly suppressed fMLP- and LPS- but not PMA-stimulated superoxide production; α-terpineol significantly suppressed fMLP-, LPS- and PMA-stimulated superoxide production; 1,8-cineole was without effect.¶Conclusion: Tea tree oil components suppress the production of superoxide by monocytes, but not neutrophils, suggesting the potential for selective regulation of cell types by these components during inflammation.¶

Key words: Tea tree oil - Monocytes - Neutrophils - Oxygen derived reactive species - Superoxide production 

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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Brand
    • 1
  • A. Ferrante
    • 2
  • R.H. Prager
    • 3
  • T.V. Riley
    • 4
  • C.F. Carson
    • 4
  • J.J. Finlay-Jones
    • 1
  • P.H. Hart
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, School of Medicine, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide, 5001, Australia, Fax 61 8 8276 8658, e-mail: Prue.Hart@flinders.edu.au AU
  2. 2.Department of Immunopathology, The Women's and Children's Hospital, North Adelaide, 5006, Australia AU
  3. 3.School of Chemistry, Physics and Earth Sciences, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide, 5001, Australia AU
  4. 4.Department of Microbiology, University of Western Australia, Nedlands, 6907, Australia AU

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