Essential oils (EO) are widely used in foods as flavoring and preservative agents. Many of the biological activities of EO have been attributed to major essential oil compounds (EOC) but their direct interaction with colonic epithelial cells and their genotoxic and genoprotective effects are not well established. In this study, the cytotoxicity and genotoxicity of EOC including nerolidol, thymol, geraniol, methylisoeugenol, eugenol, linalool, and a commercial blend (Agolin) were determined. Furthermore, the genoprotective effects of EOC against oxidative and methylating damage were assessed using the comet assay in HT-29 colorectal adenocarcinoma cells. The majority of EOC were cytotoxic to HT-29 cells at or above 250 ppm after 24 hr exposure. At noncytotoxic doses, none of the EOC was genotoxic in the comet assay. Genoprotection against oxidative DNA damage was observed for nerolidol (at 62.5 ppm), thymol (at 12.5 ppm), geraniol, and methylisoeugenol (both at 125 ppm), as well as linalool and Agolin (both at 250 ppm). Thymol was the most protective compound against oxidative DNA damage and geraniol (at 125 ppm) also protected cells against methylating DNA damage. This study highlights the potential of EOC such as thymol to protect the colonic epithelium against oxidative DNA damage and geraniol against methylating DNA damage. Further in vivo studies are needed to confirm these findings for safety and efficacy to exploit their potential pharmaceutical or nutraceutical uses for colonic health.
- comet assay
- DNA damage
- essential oils
- HT-29 colorectal adenocarcinoma cells