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Phytomedicine. 2006 Sep;13(8):558-63. Epub 2005 Nov 2.

In vitro antifungal and anti-elastase activity of some aliphatic aldehydes from Olea europaea L. fruit.

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Department of Human Physiology and Pharmacology, University La Sapienza, P.le Aldo Moro 5, 00185 Rome, Italy.


Olea europaea preparations are traditionally employed in a variety of troubles, including skin infections. Olive extracts and some of their pure compounds have shown antimicrobial activity in vitro. The present study deals with the antifungal activity of some aliphatic aldehydes from olive fruit [hexanal, nonanal, (E)-2-hexenal, (E)-2-heptenal, (E)-2-octenal, (E)-2-nonenal] against Tricophyton mentagrophytes (6 strains), Microsporum canis (1 strains) and Candida spp. (7 strains). The capability of these substances to inhibit elastase, a virulence factor essential for the dermatophytes colonization, and their cytotoxicity on cultures of reconstructed human epidermis, are also described. Aldehydes tested, inhibited the growth of T. mentagrophytes and M. canis in the range of concentration between <1.9 and 125 microg/ml; the unsaturated aldehydes showed the most broad spectrum of activity in that inhibited all strains tested. None of the aldehydes exhibited activity against Candida spp. strains. (E)-2-octenal and (E)-2-nonenal inhibited the elastase activity in a concentration-dependent manner; the anti-elastase activity suggests an additional target of the antimicrobial activity of these compounds. Aldehydes were devoid of cytotoxicity on cultures of human reconstructed epidermis. The antifungal activity of the aldehydes from olive fruit here reported, substantiates the use of olive and olive oil in skin diseases and suggests that these natural compounds could be useful agents in the topical treatment of fungal cutaneous infections.

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