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FEMS Yeast Res. 2014 Nov;14(7):1006-14. doi: 10.1111/1567-1364.12189. Epub 2014 Aug 26.

Mentha piperita essential oil induces apoptosis in yeast associated with both cytosolic and mitochondrial ROS-mediated damage.

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Centre of Molecular and Environmental Biology (CBMA), Department of Biology, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal.


Mentha piperita (MP), also known as peppermint, is an aromatic and medicinal plant widely used in the food industry, perfumery and cosmetic, pharmacy and traditional medicine. Its essential oil (EO) displays antimicrobial activity against a range of bacteria and fungi. In this study, we found that MP EO lethal cytotoxicity is associated with increased levels of intracellular reactive oxygen species, mitochondrial fragmentation and chromatin condensation, without loss of the plasma membrane integrity, indicative of an apoptotic process. Overexpression of cytosolic catalase and superoxide dismutases reverted the lethal effects of the EO and of its major component menthol. Conversely, deficiency in Sod1p (cytosolic copper-zinc-superoxide dismutase) greatly increased sensitivity to both agents, but deficiency in Sod2p (mitochondrial manganese superoxide dismutase) only induced sensitivity under respiratory growth conditions. Mentha piperita EO increased the frequency of respiratory deficient mutants indicative of damage to the mitochondrial genome, although increase in mitochondrial thiol oxidation does not seem to be involved in the EO toxicity.


Saccharomyces cerevisiae; aromatic and medicinal plants; menthol; oxidative stress; programmed cell death

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