Cymbopogon citratus is a medicinal plant popularly used in Brazil for the treatment of various diseases, and the research interest in this plant is justifiable because of its potential medicinal value in stomachache and gastric ulcer. This study was aimed to test the validity of this practice by using experimental models of gastric ulcer and to clarify the mechanisms of gastroprotection by C. citratus leaves essential oil (EOCC). EOCC was evaluated for the ability to protect the gastric mucosa against injuries caused by necrotizing agents (absolute ethanol and aspirin) in rodents. The results of this study revealed that EOCC posses a dose-independent anti-ulcer effect against the different experimental models. EOCC pretreatment depicted a higher preventive index in ethanol-(88%) and aspirin-induced (76%) acute ulceration. On pretreatment of mice with indomethacin, the cyclooxygenase inhibitor slightly suppressed the gastroprotective effect of EOCC (48.5%). Furthermore, EOCC gastroprotection was not attenuated in mice pretreated with L-NAME (85.2%), glibenclamide (100%), or yohimbine (79.7%), the respective inhibitors of nitric oxide synthase, K + ATP channel activation, and α2 receptors. These results confirmed the traditional use of C. citratus for the treatment of gastric ulcer. Thus, we provide the first evidence that EOCC reduces gastric damage induced by ethanol, at least in part, by mechanisms that involve endogenous prostaglandins.
Key words: Cymbopogon citratus , essential oil, gastroprotection, mechanisms.