Antifungal activities of the essential oil and its fractions rich in sesquiterpenes from leaves of Casearia sylvestris Sw.

ABSTRACT Casearia genus (Salicaceae) is found in sub-tropical and tropical regions of the world and comprises about 160-200 species. It is a medicinal plant used in South America, also known as “guaçatonga”, “erva-de-tiú”, “cafezinho-do-mato”. In Brazil, there are about 48 species and 12 are registered in the State of Rio de Janeiro, including Casearia sylvestris Sw. There are many studies related to the chemical profile and cytotoxic activities of extracts from these plants, although few studies about the antifungal potential of the essential oil have been reported. In this work, we have studied the antifungal properties of the essential oil of C. sylvestris leaves, as well as of their fractions, against four yeasts (Saccharomyces cerevisae, Candida albicans, C. glabrata and C. krusei) for the first time. The chemical analysis of the essential oil revealed a very diversified (n = 21 compounds) volatile fraction composed mainly of non-oxygenated sesquiterpenes (72.1%). These sesquiterpenes included α-humulene (17.8%) and α-copaene (8.5%) and the oxygenated sesquiterpene spathulenol (11.8%) were also identified. Monoterpenes were not identified. The fractions are mainly composed of oxygenated sesquiterpenes, and the most active fraction is rich in the sesquiterpene 14-hydroxy -9-epi-β-caryophyllene. This fraction was the most effective in inhibiting the growth of three yeast strains.