University of Melbourne 



Title: Plasmodium falciparum growth is arrested by monoterpenes from eucalyptus oil.

Author(s): Su V, King DJ, Woodrow IE, McFadden GI, Gleadow RM

Source: FLAVOUR AND FRAGRANCE JOURNAL    Volume: 23    Pages: 315-318    Published: 2008

Abstract: Cerebral malaria is a major health problem in the developing world. Widespread resistance to existing drugs by the parasite Plasmodium falciparum has coincided with an increase in mortality, particularly in children. One potential source of new drugs comes from plant natural products. We found that commercially available, pharmaceutical grade eucalyptus oil and its principal component 1,8-cineole inhibited the growth and development of chloroquine-sensitive and chloroquine-resistant P. falciparum. This was true both when the oil was added directly to the parasite cultures and when cultures were exposed to the vapours. The development of the parasite was arrested at the early trophozoite stage, irrespective of when the oil was introduced. We used a new approach where the concentration of monoterpenes actually taken up by the cultures was measured directly using HS-GC. We found that the critical concentration required to inhibit and kill the parasite did not adversely affect the host erythrocytes, placing it in the range suitable for drug development. Given the ready availability and existing quality control of eucalyptus oils, this may represent an economically viable adjunct to current antimalarial therapies.