Cytoprotective Properties of Citronella Oil (Cymbopogon nardus (L.) Rendl.) and Lemongrass Oil (Cymbopogon citratus (DC.) Stapf) through Attenuation of Senescent-Induced Chemotherapeutic Agent Doxorubicin on Vero and NIH-3T3 Cells

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Cancer Chemoprevention Research Center, Faculty of Pharmacy, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Sekip Utara, Yogyakarta 55281, Indonesia.

2 Laboratory of Macromolecular Engineering, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Faculty of Pharmacy, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Sekip Utara, Yogyakarta 55281, Indonesia.


Objective: This study aimed to determine the cytoprotective potentials of citronella (Cymbopogon nardus (L.) Rendl.) essential oil (CO) and lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus (DC.) Stapf) essential oil (LO). Methods: The essential oils from citronella and lemongrass were obtained by steam-water distillation, then analyzed using Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrophotometry (GC-MS) to determine the chemical constituents. The antioxidant activity of CO and LO was compared using a total antioxidant capacity kit. The viability of normal kidney epithelial cells Vero and fibroblast NIH-3T3 as the cell models were tested using a trypan blue exclusion assay. The effect of cellular senescence inhibition on both cell models was measured using senescence-associated β-galactosidase (SA-β-gal) staining. The mechanism of action of CO and LO in the protection of cellular damage against doxorubicin was also confirmed through 2’,7’–dichlorofluorescin diacetate (DCFDA) staining to discover the ability to decrease reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels and a gelatin zymography assay to observe the activity of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). Results: The major marker components of CO and LO were citronellal and citral, respectively. Both oils showed low cytotoxic activity against Vero and NIH-3T3 cells, with IC50 values of over 40 µg/mL. LO exhibited higher antioxidant capacity than CO, but there was no effect on the intracellular ROS level of both oils on Vero and NIH-3T3 cells. However, CO and LO decreased cellular senescence induced by doxorubicin exposure on both cells, as well as suppressed MMP-2 expression.  Conclusion: Both CO and LO decrease the cellular senescence and MMP-2 expression with less cytotoxic effects on normal cells independently from their antioxidant capacities. The results were expected to support the use of CO and LO as tissue protective and anti-aging agents in maintaining the body’s cellular health against chemotherapeutics or cellular damaging agents.


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