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Inhibitory effect of an extract of Curcuma zedoariae on human cervical carcinoma cells


Herbal medicine has formed the basis of health care throughout the world since the dawn of civilization. Each plant is a unique chemical factory capable of synthesizing unlimited numbers of highly complex and unusual chemical substances whose structures could otherwise escape the imagination forever. Phytomedicines have been used as a treatment for many diseases, ranging from skin disease to cancer. Most of the anticancer drugs that we use today are derived from plants. The anticancer effect of plants is due to specific phytochemicals or the complex synergistic interactions among their various constituents. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the cytotoxic properties of an extract of the Curucuma zedoariae rhizome, a plant belonging to the family Zingeberaceae, and to determine its IC50 value. Various organic extracts were isolated using Soxhlet apparatus in order of increasing solvent polarity, namely petroleum ether, ethyl acetate, acetone, and methanol. Colorimetric [3-(4,5-Dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5 diphenyltetrazolium bromide] assay (MTT assay) was done to determine the cytotoxicity against human cervical carcinoma cells (He La). Acridine orange–ethidium dromide dual staining and DNA fragmentation assays were done to detect apoptotic features. Among the various extracts studied, the petroleum ether extract was found to exhibit maximum cytotoxicity against He La cells. Our results suggest that the petroleum ether extract of the Curucuma zedoariae rhizome may have potential as an anticancer agent. Further steps have to be done to purify the compound and to elucidate the antitumor activity of the extract.

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The first author, Lakshmi. S, would like to thank the Regional Cancer Centre, the Central Tuber Crops Research Institute, and the Regional Research Laboratory for the facilities to carry out the work.

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Correspondence to S. Lakshmi.

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Lakshmi, S., Dhanya, G.S., Joy, B. et al. Inhibitory effect of an extract of Curcuma zedoariae on human cervical carcinoma cells. Med Chem Res 17, 335–344 (2008).

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  • Curcuma zedoariae
  • Cervical cancer
  • Apoptosis
  • Medicinal plants
  • Anticancer
  • Cytotoxicity