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Revista Brasileira de Farmacognosia

Print version ISSN 0102-695X

Rev. bras. farmacogn. vol.20 no.5 Curitiba Oct./Nov. 2010  Epub May 07, 2010 



Chemical composition and antimicrobial activity of Hedyosmum brasiliense Miq., Chloranthaceae, essential oil



Karoline KirchnerI; Alberto Wisniewski JrII; Alexandre Bella CruzI; Maique W. BiavattiIII; Daisy J. A. Netz*,I

INúcleo de Investigações Químico-Farmacêuticas, Curso de Farmácia, Centro de Ciências da Saúde, Universidade do Vale do Itajaí, Rua Uruguai, 458, Caixa Postal 360, 88302-202 Itajaí-SC, Brazil
IIUniversidade Regional de Blumenau, Laboratório de Cromatografia, Rua São Paulo 3250, 89030-000, Blumenau-SC, Brazil
IIILaboratório de Farmacognosia, Departamento de Ciências Farmacêuticas, Centro de Ciências da Saúde, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Campus Universitário/Trindade, Trindade, 88040-900 Florianópolis-SC, Brazil




Hedyosmum brasiliense Miq., Chloranthaceae, is an endemic species of Brazil, locally known as "cidrão". Although H. brasiliense is popularly used as sedative, chemical constituents of this species remains uncharacterized. This work presents the essential oil composition, obtained by distillation of the fresh leaves and from a stored sample for three months, analysed by GC-FID and GC-MS. The inhibitory effects of essential oil were tested by the agar dilution method against six bacterial species (Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, Proteus mirabilis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus and S. saprophyticus). In addition, six fungal species (Candida albicans, C. parapsilosis, Microsporum canis, M. gypseum, Trichophyton rubrum and T. mentagrophytes) were included. Among the determined constituents, α-terpineol (10.2%), curzerene (8.9%), pinocarvone (8.4%) and β-thujene (7.1%) were found as the main components. The essential oil has only low activity against Gram-negative microorganisms. However, is remarkable active against Gram-positive bacteria and fungi with MIC values ranging from 0.125 to 2.5% (v/v).

Keywords: Hedyosmum brasiliense, Chloranthaceae, essential oil, antimicrobial activity.


Óleo essencial de Hedyosmum brasiliense Miq., Chloranthaceae: composição e atividade antimicrobiana. Hedyosmum brasiliense Miq. Chloranthaceae, é uma espécie endêmica no Brasil, conhecida como "cidrão". Embora H. brasiliense seja utilizada como calmante na medicina popular, não foi ainda caracterizada quanto aos constituintes químicos. Este trabalho apresenta a composição do óleo essencial, obtido pela destilação de folhas frescas e de amostra de óleo essencial armazenada por três meses, analisadas por GC-FID e CG-MS. Os efeitos inibitórios do óleo essencial foram testados pelo método da diluição em agar, contra seis espécies de bactérias (Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, Proteus mirabilis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus e S. saprophyticus). Adicionalmente, seis espécies de fungos (Candida albicans, C. parapsilosis, Microsporum canis, M. gypseum, Trichophyton rubrum e T. mentagrophytes) foram incluídas. Dentre os principais constituintes, α-terpineol (10,2%), curzereno (8,9%), pinocarvona (8,4%) e β-tujeno (7,1%) foram os encontrados em maior quantidade. O σleo essencial apresentou baixa atividade contra microorganismos Gram-negativos. Entretanto, a atividade é extraordinária contra bactérias Gram-positivas e fungos, com valores de MIC entre 0,125 a 2,5% (v/v).

Unitermos: Hedyosmum brasiliense, Chloranthaceae, óleo essencial, atividade antimicrobiana.




Hedyosmum brasiliense Miq., Chloranthaceae, is an aromatic shrub and its leaves are widely used as sedative, febrifuge and as a substitute of green tea. It is an abundant and endemic species of Brazil (Reitz, 1965). Despite of these facts, the phytochemistry has not been thoroughly studied and only a single publication concerning the isolation of a lindenanolide sesquiterpene lactone and its antinociceptive activity has appeared (Trentin et al., 1999).

The Chloranthaceae form a small family composed of four genera and about 75 species. This family, considered primitive among Angiospermae (Metcalfe & Chalk, 1950; Souza & Lorenzi, 2005) shares the occurrence of secretory cells in the leaves and stems as common feature. Some species (especially from Chloranthus and Hedyosmum) are used as ornamental or medicinal plants and for alimentary purposes, as beverages (Kawabata et al., 1981). Hedyosmum (from the Greek: sweet smell) is the most abundant genus only occurring in the Americas, encompassing about 46 tropical and subtropical species (Souza & Lorenzi, 2005). Gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis of essential oil has thus far only been performed for five species of Hedyosmum: H. angustifolium, H. scabrum (Lorenzo et al., 2003), H. mexicanum, H. bonplandianum and of H. costaricensis (Mundina et al., 2000).

In the present paper, we describe the chemical composition of the essential oil of Hedyosmum brasiliense in two forms of preparation: freshly extracted and after three months of storage at room temperature. The methodologies used to analyse both samples were GC with flame ionization detection (FID) and GC-MS. In addition, antimicrobial effects against a panel of human pathogens bacteria and fungi were determined.



Plant material and extraction

Aerial parts of Hedyosmum brasiliense Miq., Chloranthaceae, (5 kg) were collected at the botanical park of Morro do Baú, localized in Luis Alves, state of Santa Catarina, Brazil. The specimen was identified by Dr. Ana Claudia Araújo and deposited at the Herbarium Lyman Bradford Smith (UNIVALI, Itajaí, Brazil), under catalog number 2031.

Fresh leaves (300 g) were hydrodistillated in 4.5 L of boiling distilled water using an apparatus constructed according to specifications in the Japanese Pharmacopoeia (2001). After 2 h of distillation, followed by decanting, a volume of 1.2 mL of essential oil was obtained. The sample was dried over 0.5 g anhydrous sodium sulphate then centrifuged at 3,000x g for 15 min. The resulting supernatant product was kept at 4 ºC until bioactivity investigation, with exception of a small aliquot of fresh material which was split into two samples: sample A, analysed immediately after extraction and sample B, stored at room temperature for three months. Prior to analysis, the essential oil was stored in Eppendorf tube. The methodologies used to analyse both samples were GC with flame ionization detection (FID) and GC-MS.

GC-FID and GC-MS Analyses

Analytical gas chromatography was carried out using a Varian CP-3800 gas chromatograph equipped with a flame ionization detector and a CP-Sil 8 CB Low Bleed capillary column (30 m × 0.25 mm, film thickness 0.25 µm). The oven temperature was programmed as follows: 50 °C for 1 min, then rising to 240 °C at 3 °C/min, ending with 1 min at 240 °C; carrier gas He at a flow rate of 1.2 mL/min; injector and detector temperature, 250 and 280 °C respectively; samples were injected (0.2 µL) with split ratio of 1:50. GC-MS analysis was performed on a Varian CP-3800 gas chromatograph interfaced with Saturn 2000 mass spectrometer, operating in electron impact mode at 70 eV with a transfer line temperature of 240 °C, manifold 80 °C and ion trap 175 °C, scan mass range m/z 40-400, at a sampling rate of 3 µScan/s. The operating conditions were: 60 °C for 3 min, then rising to 220 °C at 5 °C/min, ending with 15 min at 220 °C; carrier gas He at a flow rate of 1.0 mL/min; injector temperature of 250 °C; samples were injected with split ratio of 1:100.

The oil components were identified by comparison of their retention indices (relative to n-alkanes containing 9 to 25 carbon atoms) and mass spectra with those found in literature (Adams, 1995) and/or stored on the spectrometer database (NIST 1998). The retention indices were validated using isolated standards of several natural compounds (Table 1) under the same chromatographic conditions. The relative amounts of the individual components found in the oil were based on the peak areas obtained from the FID without further correction.




The antibacterial and antifungal activities of the essential oil were determined against the following strains: Bacillus subtilis (ATCC 23858), Escherichia coli (ATCC 25922), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (ATCC 27853), Proteus mirabilis (ATCC 25933), Staphylococcus aureus (ATCC 25923), Staphylococcus saprophyticus (ATCC 35552), Candida albicans (ATCC 10231), Candida parapsilosis (ATCC 22019), Microsporum canis (C112), Microsporum gypseum (C115), Trichophyton mentagrophytes (ATCC 9972), and Trichophyton rubrum (C137). Sources of the strains were the American Type Culture Collection for the ATCC numbered strains (Rockville, MD, U.S.A.), and the Centro de Referencia Micológica (CEREMIC, Facultad de Ciencias Bioquímicas y Farmacéuticas, Rosario, Argentina) for clinical isolates with the C numbers.

Antimicrobial testing (Quantitative antimicrobial evaluation)

The Minimum Inhibitory Concentrations (MIC) were determined using the agar dilution method recommended by the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI; formerly NCCLS) M7-A6 document (NCCLS, 2003), with the following modification: a final concentration of 0.5% (v/v) Tween-20 (Sigma) was incorporated into the agar medium to enhance oil solubility. A two fold dilution series of oil, ranging from 2.5 to 0.078 % (v/v), was prepared in 1 mL Mueller-Hinton agar medium (Difco) for the bacteria, and Sabouraud dextrose agar medium (Difco) for the fungi, both at 48 °C. Slants were dried at room temperature for 30 min prior to spot inoculation with 1 µL aliquots of culture containing approximately 105 CFU of each bacterial species, and 103 CFU of each fungal species (Espinel-Ingroff & Pfaller, 1995). The slants were incubated at 35 oC for the bacteria and fungi, with exception of the dermatophytes, which were cultivated at 28-30 oC. The MIC were visually recorded after 24 h for the bacteria, 24-48 h for the yeasts, and after satisfactory fungal growth of the control for the rest of the fungi. The controls were made for each microorganism with the standard antimicrobial tetracycline and vancomycin for bacteria, and ketoconazole for fungi. Inhibition of bacterial and yeast growth in the slants containing test oil was judged by comparison with growth in blank control slants. Experiments were carried out in triplicate.The MIC were determined as the lowest concentration of oil at which a visible inhibitory growth effect on the agar slant was observed.



In this study we report the chemical constituents and antimicrobial activity of the essential oil obtained from leaves of Hedyosmum brasiliense Miq., Chloranthaceae, which according to our knowledge have never been studied before. A greenish-yellow oil was obtained from the fresh leaves of H. brasiliense after 2 h of distillation, and yield 0.5% (volume/mass of leaves). A typical pleasant-smelling, herbal odour was immediately observed. The chemical composition of the oil was analyzed and is presented in Table 2.



Among the seventy compounds identified, 90% are terpenes: twenty oxygenated monoterpenes (28.6%), nineteen oxygenated sesquiterpenes (27.1%), thirteen non-oxygenated sesquiterpenes (18.6%) and eleven non-oxygenated monoterpenes (15.7%). The minor compounds included three phenylpropanoids (4.3%) and four compounds of other classes.

The most abundant single compound was the monoterpene alcohol α-terpineol (10.2%), followed by the furan-containing sesquiterpenoid curzerene (8.9%), and the ketones pinocarvone (8.4%) and β-thujene (7.1%). We analyzed the effect of storage of the essential oil by comparison of the composition of the samples A and B (Figure 1). Three months after the extraction, the majority of the peaks were still present. Some peaks, mainly those related to compounds present at a very low abundance in the fresh starting material (like α-thujene, α- and β-pinene, myrtenyl acetate, elixene and humulene) were not detectable after three months. However, the percentage of the following oxygenated compounds increased: the sesquiterpene alcohol carotol (from 6.1% to 18.4%), curzerene (from 8.9% to 15.9%) and pinocarvone (from 8.4% to 11.3%). Despite these observations the odour of the two samples remained essentially unaltered. Apparently, the key components responsible for the odour did not significantly alter upon storage.

The composition of the essential oil of H. brasiliense was significantly different from that of other Hedyosmum species. Mundina et al. (2007) described the contents of three species from Costa Rica. H. mexicanum Cordemoy contains two abundant components: the monoterpene sabinene (28%) and the oxygen-containing sesquiterpene furanodiene (20%). In the related species H. costaricencis C. E. Wood the sesquiterpenes germacrene-D (32%), (E,E)-α-farnesene (8%), β-caryophyllene (6%) and β-bourbonene (6%) and the monoterpene (E)-β-o-cimene (2%) occur. In the third species, H. bonplandianum Kunth, the predominant components are the monoterpenes sabinene (15%) and (E)-β-ocimene (11%), the monoterpenoids linalool (3.0%) and terpoin-4-ol (7%) and the sesquiterpenes germacrene D (32%), α-bisabolene (10%) and β-caryophyllene (6.1%).

A second article (Lorenzo et al., 2003) describes the essential oil from two bolivian Hedyosmum species: H. angustifolium (Solms-Laubach) and H. scabrum (Solms-Laubach). Monoterpene hydrocarbons, especially α-and β-pinene (24 and 23.5% respectively), and oxygen containing monoterpenes, mainly 1,8-cineole (3.7%) and linalool (6.1%), were the principal constituents found in the H. angustifolium oil. The oil of H. scabrum was mainly made up of monoterpenes, in particular δ-3-carene, the sesquiterpenes α-gurjunene (6.6%) and germacrene-D (13%), and 3',4'-dimethoxypropiophenone (6.6%).

Essential oils have been largely used against several diseases, occasionally based on folk medicine observations (Daniel et al., 2009; Leite et al., 2009). Thus, approximately 300 characterized essential oils are economically important because of their extensive use in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and perfume industries (Bakkali et al., 2008). Although we did not clinically assess the therapeutic effect of the essential oil of H. brasiliense, based on the composition here described, we can anticipate a potential pharmaceutical and/or cosmetic use. Two of the major compounds, α-terpineol and β-thujene, have been described to be important for the antioxidant and antimicrobial activity of several plants and or essential oils (Pengelly, 2004). Additionally, α-terpineol is also used worldwide in fine fragrances, shampoos, as well as in non-cosmetic products such household cleaners and detergents (Bathia et al., 2008).

Our results also indicate that H. brasiliense essential oil has antimicrobial activity against pathogenic bacteria and fungi in the agar dilution. This method is most suitable for such experiments because the relative potency of both polar and non-polar substances as well interactions in complex extracts can be measured (Ríos & Recio, 2005). As summarized in Table 3 this essential oil presented appreciable antibacterial activity against the Gram-positive bacteria S. aureus, S. saprophyticus and B. subtilis, with a MIC value of 0.312%. This points out that the essential oil could be used as topic agent to combat Staphylococcus aureus, one of the major causes of community-acquired and hospital-acquired infections (Deurenberg & Stobberingh, 2009). Similarly, Staphylococcus saprophyticus, a coagulase-negative species of Staphylococcus often participating in urinary tract infections is also susceptible to this essential oil.



No activity against the Gram-negative bacteria was found up to the highest concentration tested (2.5%). Thus, the use as antibacterial agent is limited to Gram-positive microorganisms. Susceptibility of Gram-positive bacteria and relative tolerance of Gram-negative bacteria to essential oils has been correlated with the presence of a hydrophilic outer layer (Kalemba & Kunicka, 2003). It is presumed that penetration of hydrophobic components in Gram-negative microorganisms is more difficult due to the presence of a second physical barrier formed by the outer membrane (Mann et al., 2000; Duffy & Power, 2001).

H. brasiliense essential oil also presented antifungal properties against a panel of human opportunistic pathogenic fungi, and the results showed significant activity against fungal dermatophytes (M. canis, M. gypseum, T. mentagrophytes and T. rubrum), that are responsible for the invasion of the keratinized portion of the skin, nails, and hair causing infection (Woodfolk, 2005). These fungi are considered to be the main organisms responsible for onychomycosis (Sarifakioglu et al., 2007), and despite new systemic antifungal therapies, is still difficult to eradicate, exemplified by the 25 to 40% recurrence in nail infections (Hay, 2001). It is hoped that novel substances, including essential oils, could form an economically sustainable alternative to treat nail infections. The worldwide spread of HIV infection increased the occurrence of opportunistic fungi, including Candida species (Pfaller & Diekema, 2007). Our finding of a significant antifungal activity of essential oil against C. albicans and C. parapsilosis (MIC values ranging from 0.125 to 0.312%) is therefore of clinical relevance.

Also in Table 3, it is shown the results of standard antibiotics, that it was added only to assess the susceptibility of tested strains, whereas a comparison of the antimicrobial activity of essential oils and antibiotics cannot be made from this manner (Janssen et al., 1987; Kalemba & Kunicka, 2003), since was described above, the essential oil of H. brasiliense it is a complex mixture of compounds, like all essential oils, where the active principle can be in small proportion. Also we stand out that it is not pretension of this study to compare the results with antibiotics used in the clinic, but that they can serve to add value if the cited essential oil as an ingredient of a pharmaceutical formulation.

The antimicrobial activity of H. brasiliense essential oil is suspected to be associated with one of the major components. α-terpineol is an important candidate for such a biologically active component (Kotan et al., 2007; Park et al., 2009; But some studies report that whole essential oils have a greater antimicrobial activity than the major components mixed (Gill et al., 2002; Mourey & Canillac, 2002). This finding suggests that minor components like carotol, spathulenol, eudesmol, and cis-ocymene, present in our samples, could also affect the antimicrobial properties (Jasicka-Misiak et al., 2004; Razavi et al., 2009; Ugur et al., 2009).

In conclusion, this investigation characterized the components of H. brasiliense essential oil and investigated its antimicrobial properties. Our tests shown that H. brasiliense essential oil is in vitro active against Gram-positive bacteria, including the pathogen S. aureus, dermatophytes and opportunistic fungi.



The authors are grateful to FAPESC for its fellowship (Programa Mérito Universitário) and CNPq for the grant of MWB.



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