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