Potential antioxidant activity, cytotoxic and apoptosis-inducing effects of Chelidonium majus L. extract on leukemia cells.

OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to assess whether a methanol extract isolated from the greater celandine Chelidonium majus L. (CME) had antioxidant effect and was able to inhibit proliferation and to induce apoptosis in leukemia cells in vitro.

METHODS: The potential antioxidant activity of CME was proved by the 1,1-diphenyl- 2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radical scavenging assay. The cytotoxicity of CME was measured by the cell growth inhibition assay using murine leukemia L1210 cell line and human promyelocytic HL-60 leukemia cells. Apoptosis-inducing effect was determined by fluorescence microscopy (chromatin condensation and nuclear DNA fragmentation).

RESULTS: In the DPPH assay CME acted as a scavenger of DPPH free radical. The results on antiproliferative properties assessment clearly demonstrated that CME had a cytotoxic effect towards both leukemia cell lines in a dose-dependent manner. In addition, the human promyelocytic HL-60 cells were more sensitive to CME treatment than the L1210 cells.

CONCLUSIONS: We concluded that the extract of C. majus L. had a strong antioxidant potential and exerted the antiproliferative activity via apoptosis on leukemia cells. CME due to the presence of the isoquinoline alkaloids and the flavonoid components may play an important role in both cancer chemoprevention through its antioxidant activity and modern cancer chemotherapy as cytotoxic and apoptosis-inducing agent.

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