Piper gaudichaudianum Kunth is used in popular medicine as anti-inflamatory and against liver disorders. One of the most studied components of the plant is the essential oil for which chemical analysis revealed (E)-nerolidol as major compound. Recently, we have shown that P. gaudichaudianum essential oil possesses strong cytotoxic effects in mammalian V79 cells. The aim of this study was to analyze the cytotoxicity and mutagenicity of P. gaudichaudianum essential oil and nerolidol using Saccharomyces cerevisiae as model study. Treatment of the XV185-14c and N123 strains with essential oil and nerolidol led to cytotoxicity but did not induce mutagenicity. Our results revealed an important role of base excision repair (BER) as the ntg1, ntg2, apn1 and apn2 mutants showed pronounced sensitivity to essential oil and nerolidol. In the absence of superoxide dismutase (in sod1? mutant strain) sensitivity to the essential oil and nerolidol increased indicating that this oil and nerolidol are generating reactive oxygen species (ROS). The ROS production was confirmed by DCF-DA probing assay in Sod-deficient strains. From this, we conclude that the observed cytotoxicity to P. gaudichaudianum essential oil and nerolidol is mainly related to ROS and DNA single strand breaks generated by the presence of oxidative lesions.
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