Planta Med 2005; 71(5): 484-488
DOI: 10.1055/s-2005-864146
© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Citral is a New Inducer of Caspase-3 in Tumor Cell Lines

Nativ Dudai1 , Yacob Weinstein2 , Margalit Krup2 , Titiana Rabinski2 , Rivka Ofir3
  • 1Hazeva Research and Development Center, Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel
  • 2Division of Aromatic Plants, ARO, Newe Yaar, Ramat Ishai, Israel
  • 3Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel
Further Information

Publication History

Received: August 18, 2004

Accepted: January 5, 2005

Publication Date:
01 June 2005 (online)


Citral, 3,7-dimethyl-2,6-octadien-1-al, a key component of the lemon-scented essential oils extracted from several herbal plants such as lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus), melissa (Melissa officinalis), verbena (Verbena officinalis) is used as a food additive and as a fragrance in cosmetics. In this study, we investigated the anti-cancer potential of citral and its mode of action. Concentrations of 44.5 μM, comparable to the concentration of citral in a cup of tea prepared from 1 g of lemon grass, induced apoptosis in several hematopoietic cancer cell lines. Apoptosis was accompanied by DNA fragmentation and caspase-3 catalytic activity induction. Citral activity (22.25 μM) was compared to a reference compound like staurosporine (0.7 μM), in respect to DNA fragmentation and caspase-3 enzymatic activity. The apoptotic effect of citral depended on the α,β-unsaturated aldehyde group.


Dr. Rivka Ofir, c/o Prof. Weinstein

Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Faculty of Health Sciences

Ben Gurion University of the Negev

Beer Sheva 84105


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