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A study of the phototoxicity of lemon oil

Summary

Lemon oil contains furocoumarin derivatives and is known to cause phototoxicity. In this study, lemon oil was fractionated, and its phototoxic activity was measured by means of a biological assay. The substances producing phototoxicity were identified by high-performance liquid chromatography as being oxypeucedanin and bergapten. The phototoxic potency of oxypeucedanin was only one-quarter of that of bergapten. However, the amounts of these two phototoxic compounds present in lemon oils produced in different regions of the world varied by a factor of more than 20 (bergapten, 4–87 ppm; oxypeucedanin, 26–728 ppm), and their ratio was not constant. The two compounds accounted for essentially all of the phototoxic activity of all lemon-oil samples. Among various other citrus-essential oils investigated, lime oil and bitter-orange oil also contained large amounts of oxypeucedanin. Oxypeucedanin was found to elicit photopigmentation on colored-guinea-pig skin without preceding visible erythema.

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Naganuma, M., Hirose, S., Nakayama, Y. et al. A study of the phototoxicity of lemon oil. Arch Dermatol Res 278, 31–36 (1985). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00412492

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00412492

Key words

  • Phototoxicity
  • Lemon oil
  • Photopigmentation
  • Oxypeucedanin
  • Furocoumarin