Assessment of endocrine disruption potential of essential oils of culinary herbs and spices involving glucocorticoid, androgen and vitamin D receptors
Essential oils (EOs) of culinary herbs and spices are consumed on a daily basis. They are multicomponent mixtures of compounds with already demonstrated biological activities. Taking into account regular dietary intake and the chemical composition of EOs, they may be considered as candidates for endocrine-disrupting entities. Therefore, we examined the effects of 31 EOs of culinary herbs and spices on transcriptional activities of glucocorticoid receptor (GR), androgen receptor (AR) and vitamin D receptor (VDR). Using reporter gene assays in stably transfected cell lines, weak anti-androgen and anti-glucocorticoid activity was observed for EO of vanilla and nutmeg, respectively. Moderate augmentation of calcitriol-dependent VDR activity was caused by EOs of ginger, thyme, coriander and lemongrass. Mixed anti-glucocorticoid and VDR-stimulatory activities were displayed by EOs of turmeric, oregano, dill, caraway, verveine and spearmint. The remaining 19 EOs were inactive against all receptors under investigation. Analyses of GR, AR and VDR target genes by means of RT-PCR confirmed the VDR-stimulatory effects, but could not confirm the anti-glucocorticoid and anti-androgen effects of EOs. In conclusion, although we observed minor effects of several EOs on transcriptional activities of GR, AR and VDR, the toxicological significance of these effects is very low. Hence, 31 EOs of culinary herbs and spices may be considered safe, in terms of endocrine disruption involving receptors GR, AR and VDR.