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Phytochemistry

Ibuprofen-like activity in extra-virgin olive oil

Nature volume 437, pages 4546 (01 September 2005) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Newly pressed extra-virgin olive oil contains oleocanthal — a compound whose pungency induces a strong stinging sensation in the throat, not unlike that caused by solutions of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen1. We show here that this similar perception seems to be an indicator of a shared pharmacological activity, with oleocanthal acting as a natural anti-inflammatory compound that has a potency and profile strikingly similar to that of ibuprofen. Although structurally dissimilar, both these molecules inhibit the same cyclooxygenase enzymes in the prostaglandin-biosynthesis pathway.

Enzymes in an inflammation pathway are inhibited by oleocanthal, a component of olive oil.

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Author information

Author notes

    • Russell S. J. Keast
    •  & Chi-Ho Lee

    Present addresses: Food Science, RMIT University, Melbourne, Victoria 3001, Australia (R.S.J.K); Animal Resources Research Center, Konkuk University, Gwangjin-Gu, Seoul 143-130, South Korea (C.-H.L.)

Affiliations

  1. *Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA

    • Gary K. Beauchamp
    • , Russell S. J. Keast
    • , Chi-Ho Lee
    • , Amos B. Smith
    •  & Paul A. S. Breslin
  2. ‡Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA

    • Diane Morel
  3. Department of Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA

    • Qiang Han
    •  & Amos B. Smith
  4. §Firmenich, PO Box 5880, Princeton, New Jersey 08543, USA

    • Jianming Lin
    •  & Jana Pika

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Paul A. S. Breslin.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/437045a

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