Phytochemical profile of three Ballota species essential oils and evaluation of the effects on human cancer cells

Three Ballota species, Ballota undulata, Ballota saxatilis and Ballota nigra ssp. foetida, were investigated for their cytotoxicity against two human cancer cells, hepatoma HepG2 cell line and breast cancer MCF-7 cell line, and for their antioxidant activity. The chemical composition of essential oils was studied by GC and GC–MS. Sesquiterpenes were the main constituents. The most antiproliferative essential oil against HepG2 cells was B. undulata with a percentage of inhibition of 81.36 ± 3.54 at a concentration of 100 μg/mL, while against MCF-7 cells essential oil from B. saxatilis was the most active with a percentage of inhibition of 24.18 ± 1.13 at a concentration of 100 μg/mL. The antioxidant activity was investigated by DPPH test for all the oils. B. undulata showed the highest antiradical effect, with IC50 value of 529.7 ± 37.4 μg/mL.