Citrus essential oils and main terpenes: chemical composition and good litholytic activity on gallstones

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Research Articles | Published:

Print ISSN : 0970-4078.
Online ISSN : 2229-4473.
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Doi: 10.1007/s42535-021-00251-9
First Page: 600
Last Page: 605
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Keywords: Moroccan citrus fruits, Essential oil, Terpenes, Gallstones, Litholytic activity


We studied the gallstone dissolving capacity of Moroccan citrus (C) essential oils; C. clementina, C. aurantium, C. sinensis and C. paradisi. Their litholytic activity was compared to that of their main constituents revealed by a gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC–MS) analysis; limonene, linalool and γ-terpinene and to the Methyl tertbutyl ether (MTBE) standard as well. Gallstone sample was classified as a cholesterol type after a quantification analysis, using UV-spectrophotometer. The hydrocarbon compounds predominated the chemical composition of the oils, limonene was the commonly major identified compound, representing between 72.06 and 88.49 %. The citrus essential oils caused a deterioration in the morphological appearance of gallstone samples. The C. sinensis essential oil manifested with remarkable litholytic activity after a day of incubation, reached to a dissolution capacity of 95.78 ± 0.49 %, the same for C. clementina with 94.81 ± 1.30 % and C. aurantium with 92.99 ± 2.04 %. These oils were more effective than MTBE standard. In last position, C. paradisi essential oil exhibited the less high dissolution of 87.68 ± 1.82 %, comparing with other oils. Linalool showed a good litholytic activity, better than that of MTBE and similar to that of limonene. Therefore, in addition to limonene role, also the other constituents may have, as a natural mixture, an important additive effect in the gallstone dissolution of each essential oil.

Moroccan citrus fruits, Essential oil, Terpenes, Gallstones, Litholytic activity

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We would like to thank Professor Ibrahim Sbai El Otmani from Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy Casablanca, Hassan II University of Casablanca for enthusiastic help.

Author Information

Arrout Asma
Laboratory of Drugs Sciences, Biomedical Research and Biotechnology, Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, Hassan II University of Casablanca, Casablanca, Morocco

El Ghallab Yassine
Laboratory of Drugs Sciences, Biomedical Research and Biotechnology, Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, Hassan II University of Casablanca, Casablanca, Morocco

Lefriyekh Mohammed Rachid
Department General Surgery, Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, University Hospital Center Ibn Rochd, Hassan II University of Casablanca, Casablanca, Morocco

Ait Haj Said Amal
Laboratory of Drugs Sciences, Biomedical Research and Biotechnology, Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, Hassan II University of Casablanca, Casablanca, Morocco