Pinenes: the key of milk’s antimalarial properties?

Among the flavonoids and essential oils present in Artemisia annua alpha-pinene has by far the lowest IC50 against Plasmodium falciparum in vitro (PJ Weathers et al., Industrial Crops and Products, 2014, in press). This is confirmed by a research team at the Teikyo University in Tokyo Ryuichi Fujisaki et al, Mar 2012)
A French INRA study found that the most abundant monoterpenes (essential oils) in milk from cows grazing natural diversified pasture were alpha-pinene, beta-pinene and limonene (G Tornambé et al., J Dairy Sci 2006, 89-6, 2309-19) A paper published by another French research team (E.Serrano et al., J Animal and Feed Sciences, 16,2007. 168-179) shows that muscle, fatty tissues and milk are very rich in alpha- and beta-pinene, not only when the cattle are fed extra doses of essential oils, but also in standard milk.

In human volunteers for alpha-pinene absorbed by inhalation only 0.001% is eliminated by urine .The main part accumulates in adipose tissues and is released progressively into blood (AA Falk et al., Scand J Work Envir Health, 1990, 16, 372-78) Terpene content for milk samples is characterized by the same terpenes as those added to food. The terpenes appear to be transferred unaltered into the milk. Volatile terpenes in essential oils, which could influence milk flavor, are transferred into milk via both gastrointestinal and respiratory exposure. Most of it is probably absorbed by inhalation of pinenes emitted by plants or trees. Among all monoterpenes emitted by trees alpha-pinene has on the average the highest percentage (Sophie Moukthar, Thèse de doctorat, 205, Institut Polytechnique de Toulouse). Primary agents of the tree’s defense are monoterpenes, aromatic molecules such as pinenes.

Pinenes and limonene from Artemisia.arborescens also display antiviral properties by inactivating viruses and inhibiting cell-to-cell diffusion (Barbara Adorjan, Diplomarbeit, Universität Wien). They increase the activity of human natural killer cells (Q Li et al., J Biol Regul Homeost Agents, 2010, 24, 157-65). The Japanese call it a forest bathing trip. Pinenes have strong antimicrobial properties (AM Leite et al., Rev Bras de Ciencias Farmaceuticas, 43, 2007). These molecules also have immunostimulating, anti-inflammatory and gastroprotective properties (DK Lima et al., J Ethnopharmacology), 142, 2012, 274-282).

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