Carvacrol induces mitochondria-mediated apoptosis via disruption of calcium homeostasis in human choriocarcinoma cells

Whasun Lim, Jiyeon Ham, Fuller W. Bazer, Gwonhwa Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Carvacrol is a monoterpenoid phenol present in the oils of various plants including Origanum vulgare (oregano) or Origanum majorana (marjoram). For a long time, it has been used as spice in foods because of its antimicrobial properties. Additionally, it appears to have anticancer effects against some cancer but this has not been well studied. Therefore, we conducted various assays to confirm the effects of carvacrol on choriocarcinoma cell lines (JAR and JEG3). Our results indicate that carvacrol has antiproliferative properties and induces apoptosis, resulting in increased expression of proapoptotic proteins. Additionally, carvacrol disrupted the mitochondrial membrane potential and induced calcium ion overload in the mitochondrial matrix in both JAR and JEG3 cells. Furthermore, carvacrol generated oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation in both JAR and JEG3 cells. Moreover, carvacrol-suppressed phosphoinositide 3-kinase–protein kinase B and extracellular signal–regulated kinase 1/2 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signal transduction whereas expression of phosphor-P38 and c-Jun N-terminal kinase MAPK was increased. Together, our results indicate that carvacrol may be a possible new therapeutic agent or supplement for the control of human choriocarcinomas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1803-1815
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Feb 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study is supported by The Korea Health Technology R&D Project through the Korea Health Industry Development Institute funded by the Ministry of Health & Welfare, Republic of Korea (grant number: HI17C0929).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


  • apoptosis
  • calcium homeostasis
  • carvacrol
  • choriocarcinoma
  • mitochondria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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