Acne is a common skin condition observed in adolescents. Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans Houtt) (MF) is a well-known traditional Chinese medicine; its major toxic components, safrole and myristicin, are rich in essential oils. Essential oils of MF (MFO) were extracted by hydrodistillation; the residue was extracted using 50% methanol (MFE-M). The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of MFE-M against Cutibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus aureus was 0.64 mg. Four compounds were obtained from MFE-M: myristicin (1), (+)-erythro-∆80-7S,8Rdihydroxy-3,3,50-trimethoxy-8-O-40-neolignan (2), (+)-erythro-∆8’-7-hydroxy-3,4,3’,5’-tetramethoxy 8-O-4-neolignan (3), and erythro-∆80-7-acetoxy-3,4,30,50-tetramethoxy-8-O-40-neolignan (4). Compound 2 exerted the strongest antimicrobial activity, with MICs of 6.25 and 3.12 µg/mL against C. acnes and S. aureus, respectively. Moreover, 2 inhibited NO, PGE2, iNOS, and COX-2 levels in RAW 264.7 cells induced by LPS or heat-killed C. acnes; NO production at 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC50) was 11.07 and 11.53 µg/mL, respectively. Myristicin and safrole content was higher in MFO than in MFE-M. MFO and MFE-M caused no skin irritation after a single topical application in Wistar rats. MFE-M, with low safrole and myristicin content, did not cause skin irritation and exhibited an anti-acne effect; moreover, 2 was identified as the active substance. Therefore, MFE-M could be employed to develop anti-acne compounds for use in cosmetics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4563
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • Anti-acne effect
  • Anti-inflammatory effect
  • Cutibacterium acnes
  • Myristica fragrans Houtt
  • Skin irritation
  • Staphylococcus aureus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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