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Food Chem Toxicol. 2013 Aug;58:37-49. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2013.04.016. Epub 2013 Apr 20.

Toxic essential oils. Part II: chemical, toxicological, pharmacological and microbiological profiles of Artemisia annua L. volatiles.

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Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science and Mathematics, University of Niš, Višegradska 33, 18000 Niš, Serbia.


Botanical drugs based on Artemisia annua L. (Asteraceae) are important in the treatment of malaria. Alongside with artemisinin, this aromatic species produces high and variable amounts of other chemicals that have mostly unknown biological/pharmacological activities. Herein, we have studied the toxicological/pharmacological profile of volatile constituents of a Serbian population of A. annua. Fifty-eight components were identified, among them, artemisia ketone (35.7%), α-pinene (16.5%) and 1,8-cineole (5.5%) were the most abundant ones. Significant variability of A. annua volatile profile was confirmed by means of agglomerative hierarchical cluster analysis indicating the existence of several different A. annua chemotypes. In an attempt to connect the chemical profile of A. annua oil with its biological/toxicological effects, we have evaluated in vivo and/or in vitro toxicity (including hepato- and nephrotoxicity/protection), antinociceptive, antioxidant (DPPH, ABTS and superoxide radical scavenging activity assays), enzyme inhibiting (protein kinase A and α-amylase) and antimicrobial potential of A. annua oil and of its constituents. Our results revealed that the beneficial properties of A. annua botanical drugs are not limited only to their antimalarial properties. Taking into account its relatively low toxicity, the usage of A. annua volatiles (at least of the herein studied population) does not represent a health risk.


Acute toxicity; Antimicrobial activity; Antinociceptive activity; Artemisia annua L. (Asteraceae); Essential oil; Nephroprotective activity

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