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Keywords:

  • cytotoxic activity;
  • essential oil;
  • fixed oil;
  • Myristica fragrans;
  • supercritical extraction

Abstract:  Isolation of volatile and fixed oils from nutmeg have been obtained by supercritical fractioned extraction with carbon dioxide. Extraction experiments were carried out at pressures of 90 and 250 bar and temperature of 40 °C. The extraction step performed at 90 bar produced a volatile fraction mainly formed by myristicin (32.8%), sabinene (16.1%), α-pinene (9.8%), β-pinene (9.4%), β-phellandrene (4.9%), safrole (4.1%) and terpinen-4-ol (3.6%). The oil yield relative to this step of the process was 1.4% by weight of the charge. The last extraction step at 250 bar produced a butter-like material (nutmeg butter). The yield of this step was 14.4% by weight. The most represented fatty acids of fixed oil from nutmeg were 14:0 (79.2%), 18:1 n-9 (7.4%) and 16:0 (6.1%), and in particular the unsaturated fatty acids 18:1 n-9 averaged 32.96 μg/mg of oil. The level of myristicin in the nutmeg essential and fixed oils was also directly quantified by reversed HPLC-DAD. Moreover, the essential oil obtained from nutmeg, as well as myristicin, showed a significant in vitro inhibitory effect on the growth of a colon cancer cell line (undifferentiated Caco-2 cells).

Practical Application:  In this study, the chemical characterization and the anticancer activity of nutmeg oils obtained by supercritical extraction with carbon dioxide were investigated. This is important for their potential application in food and pharmaceutical industries.