Study of the effects of β-myrcene on rat fertility and general reproductive performance

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β-Myrcene (MYR) is a monoterpene found in the oils of a variety of aromatic plants including lemongrass, verbena, hop, bay, and others. MYR and essential oils containing this terpenoid compound are used in cosmetics, household products, and as flavoring food additives. This study was undertaken to investigate the effects of MYR on fertility and general reproductive performance in the rat. MYR (0, 100, 300 and 500 mg/kg) in peanut oil was given by gavage to male Wistar rats (15 per dose group) for 91 days prior to mating and during the mating period, as well as to females (45 per dose group) continuously for 21 days before mating, during mating and pregnancy, and throughout the period of lactation up to postnatal day 21. On day 21 of pregnancy one-third of the females of each group were submitted to cesarean section. Resorption, implantation, as well as dead and live fetuses were counted. All fetuses were examined for external malformations, weighed, and cleared and stained with Alizarin Red S for skeleton evaluation. The remaining dams were allowed to give birth to their offspring. The progeny was examined at birth and subsequently up to postnatal day 21. Mortality, weight gain and physical signs of postnatal development were evaluated. Except for an increase in liver and kidney weights, no other sign of toxicity was noted in male and female rats exposed to MYR. MYR did not affect the mating index (proportion of females impregnated by males) or the pregnancy index (ratio of pregnant to sperm-positive females). No sign of maternal toxicity and no increase in externally visible malformations were observed at any dose level. Only at the highest dose tested (500 mg/kg) did MYR induce an increase in the resorption rate and a higher frequency of fetal skeleton anomalies. No adverse effect of MYR on postnatal weight gain was noted but days of appearance of primary coat, incisor eruption and eye opening were slightly delayed in the exposed offspring. On the basis of the data presented in this paper the no-observed-adverse-effect level (NOAEL) for toxic effects on fertility and general reproductive performance can be set at 300 mg of β- myrcene/kg body weight by the oral route.




Paumgartten, F. J. R., De-Carvalho, R. R., Souza, C. A. M., Madi, K., & Chahoud, I. (1998). Study of the effects of β-myrcene on rat fertility and general reproductive performance. Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research, 31(7), 955–965.

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