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Cell Immunol. 2012 Sep;279(1):30-41. doi: 10.1016/j.cellimm.2012.09.002. Epub 2012 Sep 18.

D-Limonene modulates T lymphocyte activity and viability.

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Department of Biology, Lebanon Valley College, Annville, PA 17003, United States.


d-Limonene, a cyclic terpene that is a major component of several plant essential oils, is used widely as an additive in perfumes, soaps, foods and beverages, and has also been shown to possess chemopreventative and chemotherapeutic activity. A limited number of studies have been conducted investigating the effect of d-limonene on immune system function. We show that d-limonene and its metabolites limonene-1-2-diol and perillic acid inhibit the production by CD3(+)CD4(+) T cells of IFN-γ, IL-2, TNF-α, IL-4 and IL-13, and the production by CD3(+)CD8(+) T cells of IFN-γ, IL-2, and TNF-α. Additionally, the upregulation of CD25, CD69 and CD40L by activated T lymphocytes is modulated by d-limonene, limonene-1-2-diol and perillic acid treatment. Furthermore, high concentrations of d-limonene, limonene-1-2-diol and perillic acid induce T lymphocyte cell death. These data suggest that d-limonene possesses immunomodulatory activity that must be considered when utilizing the compound for therapeutic or commercial purposes.

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