Essential Oil of Cymbopogon nardus (L.) Rendle: A Strategy to Combat Fungal Infections Caused by Candida Species
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Background: The incidence of fungal infections, especially those caused by Candida yeasts, has increased over the last two decades. However, the indicated therapy for fungal control has limitations. Hence, medicinal plants have emerged as an alternative in the search for new antifungal agents as they present compounds, such as essential oils, with important biological effects. Published data demonstrate important pharmacological properties of the essential oil of Cymbopogon nardus (L.) Rendle; these include anti-tumor, anti-nociceptive, and antibacterial activities, and so an investigation of this compound against pathogenic fungi is interesting. Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the chemical composition and biological potential of essential oil (EO) obtained from the leaves of C. nardus focusing on its antifungal profile against Candida species. Methods: The EO was obtained by hydrodistillation and analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Testing of the antifungal potential against standard and clinical strains was performed by determining the minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC), time-kill, inhibition of Candida albicans hyphae growth, and inhibition of mature biofilms. Additionally, the cytotoxicity was investigated by the IC50 against HepG-2 (hepatic) and MRC-5 (fibroblast) cell lines. Results: According to the chemical analysis, the main compounds of the EO were the oxygen-containing monoterpenes: citronellal, geranial, geraniol, citronellol, and neral. The results showed important antifungal potential for all strains tested with MIC values ranging from 250 to 1000 mu g/mL, except for two clinical isolates of C. tropicalis (MIC > 1000 mu g/mL). The time-kill assay showed that the EO inhibited the growth of the yeast and inhibited hyphal formation of C. albicans strains at concentrations ranging from 15.8 to 1000 mu g/mL. Inhibition of mature biofilms of strains of C. albicans, C. krusei and C. parapsilosis occurred at a concentration of 10 x MIC. The values of the IC50 for the EO were 96.6 mu g/mL (HepG-2) and 33.1 mu g/mL (MRC-5). Conclusion: As a major virulence mechanism is attributed to these types of infections, the EO is a promising compound to inhibit Candida species, especially considering its action against biofilm.
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