Parasitology Research

, 105:1489 | Cite as

In vitro activity of the essential oil of Cymbopogon citratus and its major component (citral) on Leishmania amazonensis

  • Marta Regina Santin
  • Adriana Oliveira dos Santos
  • Celso Vataru Nakamura
  • Benedito Prado Dias Filho
  • Izabel Cristina Piloto Ferreira
  • Tânia Ueda-NakamuraEmail author
Original Paper


Leishmaniasis causes considerable mortality throughout the world, affecting more than 12 million people. Cymbopogon citratus (DC) Stapf, Family Poaceae, is a widely used herb in tropical countries and is also known as a source of ethnomedicines. In this study, the inhibitory effect and the morphological and ultrastructural alterations on Leishmania amazonensis by the essential oil (EO) of C. citratus and its main constituent, citral, were evaluated. The results showed that the antiproliferative activity of EO on promastigotes and axenic amastigotes, and intracellular amastigote forms of L. amazonensis was significantly better than citral, and indicated a dose-dependent effect. Neither compound showed a cytotoxic effect on macrophage strain J774G8. The promastigote forms of L. amazonensis underwent remarkable morphological and ultrastructural alterations compared with untreated cultures. These alterations were visible by light, scanning, and transmission electron microscopy of promastigotes treated with EO and citral at concentrations corresponding to the IC50 (1.7 and 8.0 µg/ml) and IC90 (3.2 and 25 µg/ml), respectively, after 72 h of incubation. This study revealed that citral-rich essential oil from C. citratus has promising antileishmanial properties, and is a good candidate for further research to develop a new anti-protozoan drug.


Leishmaniasis Cutaneous Leishmaniasis Geranial Antileishmanial Activity Amastigote Form 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This study was supported through grants from Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico—CNPq, Capacitação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior—CAPES, Financiadora de Estudos e Projetos—FINEP, and Programa de Pós-graduação em Ciências Farmacêuticas da Universidade Estadual de Maringá.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marta Regina Santin
    • 1
  • Adriana Oliveira dos Santos
    • 2
  • Celso Vataru Nakamura
    • 1
    • 2
  • Benedito Prado Dias Filho
    • 1
    • 2
  • Izabel Cristina Piloto Ferreira
    • 1
  • Tânia Ueda-Nakamura
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciências FarmacêuticasUniversidade Estadual de MaringáMaringáBrazil
  2. 2.Programa de Pós-Graduação em MicrobiologiaUniversidade Estadual de LondrinaLondrinaBrazil

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