Essential Oil Applications, Research Updates|

The growing interest towards essential oils stems from their biological capabilities that include antibacterial and antioxidant effects. Such properties may be extremely useful in the reproductive field; nonetheless essential oils show toxic effects that can lead to cell disruption. The present study aimed to evaluate and compare the effects of tea tree oil (TTO) and its principal component terpinen-4-ol (TER) on the morpho-functional parameters of swine spermatozoa. Experimental samples were prepared by suspending 15 × 107 spermatozoa in 5 mL of medium with different concentrations of the above-mentioned compounds: from 0.2 to 2 mg/mL at an interval of 0.2 for TTO, while TER concentrations were adjusted according to its presence in TTO (41.5%). After 3 h incubation at 16 °C, samples were analyzed for pH, viability, acrosome status, and objective motility. The results highlighted a concentration-dependent effect of TTO with total motility as the most sensitive parameter. TER was better tolerated, and the most sensitive parameters were related to membrane integrity, suggesting a different pattern of interaction. The study confirms the importance of evaluating the effects of natural compounds on spermatozoa before exploiting their beneficial effects. Spermatozoa seem to be good candidates for preliminary toxicological screenings in the light of their peculiar properties.

Reference: Elmi, A., D. Ventrella, F. Barone, G. Carnevali, G. Filippini, A. Pisi, S. Benvenuti, M. Scozzoli and M. L. Bacci (2019). “In vitro effects of tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia essential oil) and its principal component terpinen-4-ol on swine spermatozoa.” Molecules 24(6): 1071.

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