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Croat Med J. 2015 Oct;56(5):431-8.

Effects of d- and l-limonene on the pregnant rat myometrium in vitro.

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Róbert Gáspár, Szeged, H-6701, P.O. Box 121, Hungary,



To study the effects of d- and l-limonene on pregnant rat myometrial contractility in vitro, and investigate how these effects are modified by other agents. D- and l-limonene (10(-13)-10(-8) M) caused myometrial contraction in a dose-dependent manner.


Contractions of uterine rings from 22-day-pregnant rats were measured in an organ bath in the presence of d- or l-limonene (10(-13)-10(-8) M) and nifedipine (10(-8) M), tetraethyl-ammonium (10(-3) M), theophylline (10(-5) M), or paxilline (10(-5) M). Uterine cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) level was detected by enzyme immunoassay. Oxidative damage was induced by methylglyoxal (3×10(-2) M) and the alteration was measured via noradrenaline (1×10(-9) to 3×10(-5) M) -induced contractions.


Pre-treatment with nifedipine (10(-8) M), tetraethylammonium (10(-3) M), and theophylline (10(-5) M) attenuated the contracting effect of d- and l-limonene, while in the presence of paxilline (10(-5) M) d- and l-limonene were ineffective. The two enantiomers decreased the myometrial cAMP level, but after paxilline pretreatment the cAMP level was not altered compared with the control value. Additionally, l-limonene (10(-6) M) diminished consequences of oxidative damage caused by methylglyoxal (3×10(-2) M) on contractility, whereas d-limonene was ineffective.


Our findings suggest that l-limonene has an antioxidant effect and that both d-and l-limonene cause myometrial contraction through activation of the A2A receptor and opening of the voltage-gated Ca(2+) channel. It is possible that limonene-containing products increase the pregnant uterus contractility and their use should be avoided during pregnancy.

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