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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2016, Article ID 3696232, 13 pages
Research Article

Cytotoxicity and Genotoxicity Assessment of Sandalwood Essential Oil in Human Breast Cell Lines MCF-7 and MCF-10A

1Department of Basic Sciences, Divisions of Pharmacology & Toxicology & Cancer Biology, Ponce Health Sciences University School of Medicine, Ponce Research Institute, Ponce, PR 00732, USA
2Public Health Program, Ponce Health Sciences University, Ponce, PR 00732, USA
3Biology Department, University of Puerto Rico at Humacao, Humacao, PR 00792, USA
4Pediatric Biochemistry Laboratory, University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX 78249, USA

Received 30 December 2015; Revised 10 April 2016; Accepted 19 April 2016

Academic Editor: Víctor López

Copyright © 2016 Carmen Ortiz et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Sandalwood essential oil (SEO) is extracted from Santalum trees. Although α-santalol, a main constituent of SEO, has been studied as a chemopreventive agent, the genotoxic activity of the whole oil in human breast cell lines is still unknown. The main objective of this study was to assess the cytotoxic and genotoxic effects of SEO in breast adenocarcinoma (MCF-7) and nontumorigenic breast epithelial (MCF-10A) cells. Proteins associated with SEO genotoxicity were identified using a proteomics approach. Commercially available, high-purity, GC/MS characterized SEO was used to perform the experiments. The main constituents reported in the oil were (Z)-α-santalol (25.34%), (Z)-nuciferol (18.34%), (E)-β-santalol (10.97%), and (E)-nuciferol (10.46%). Upon exposure to SEO (2–8 μg/mL) for 24 hours, cell proliferation was determined by the MTT assay. Alkaline and neutral comet assays were used to assess genotoxicity. SEO exposure induced single- and double-strand breaks selectively in the DNA of MCF-7 cells. Quantitative LC/MS-based proteomics allowed identification of candidate proteins involved in this response: Ku70 (), Ku80 (), EPHX1 (), and 14-3-3ζ (). These results provide the first evidence that SEO is genotoxic and capable of inducing DNA single- and double-strand breaks in MCF-7 cells.