Submitted to: Industrial Crops and Products
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/31/2012
Publication Date: 9/10/2012
Citation: Cantrell, C.L., Zheljazkov, V.D., Osbrink, W.L., Maddox, V., Craker, L., Khan, S. 2012. Podophyllotoxin and essential oil profile of Juniperus and related species. Industrial Crops and Products. 43:668-676. Interpretive Summary: Podophyllotoxin, currently extracted from the Himalayan mayapple (Podophyllum hexandrum Royle), is being used as a precursor to the semi-synthetic anti-cancer drugs etoposide and teniposide. Because of the threats to the Himalayan mayapple, this study examined numerous species from the Cupressaceae family as alternative and potentially domestic sources of podophyllotoxin. Of the species examined, the highest concentration (0.34% on a plant dry weight basis) of podophyllotoxin was in the needles (leaves) of Juniperus virginiana 'Canaertii'. Since J. virginiana needles are currently a waste stream in the timber industry they would make an excellent candidate for development as a source for commercial production of podophyllotoxin.
Technical Abstract: Podophyllotoxin is currently in high demand as the lead chemical precursor for the anti-cancer drugs etoposide and teniposide. The primary species in commercial bulk isolation of podophyllotoxin is an endangered medicinal plant gathered in the wild in the Himalayan region. Because of the threats to the Himalayan mayapple, this study examined numerous species from the Cupressaceae family as alternative and potentially domestic sources of podophyllotoxin. Of the species examined, the highest concentration of podophyllotoxin was in the needles (leaves) of Juniperus virginiana 'Canaertii' 0.34% on a plant dry weight basis (DW). The next highest concentration of podophyllotoxin was contained in J. virginiana 'Grey Owl' with 0.18% DW. Only one other species, J. chinensis 'Sea Green', contained a relatively high concentration of podophyllotoxin with levels as high as 0.15% DW. All of the above plants would appear to be excellent sources for commercial production of podophyllotoxin production. Moreover, J. virginiana needles are widely available as a by-product of the timber industry in the US. Essential oils and extracts from the species were tested for in vitro antimicrobial, antimalarial, and antileishmanial activity with these activities also being reported for the first time. In addition, all essential oils and extracts were evaluated for activity against the Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus with no activity found at a top application rate of 2% (wt/wt).