Molecular Biology Reports

, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 2187–2196 | Cite as

Calendula arvensis L. as an anti-cancer agent against breast cancer cell lines

  • Nael AbutahaEmail author
  • Fahd A. Nasr
  • Al-Zahrani Mohammed
  • AbdelHabib Semlali
  • Fahd A. Al-Mekhlafi
  • Mohamed A. Wadaan
Original Article


Calendula arvensis L. is used in traditional folk medicine for the treatment of several diseases. Leaves, stems, and flowers of C. arvensis were extracted using a Soxhlet extractor with different solvents (i.e., hexane, chloroform, ethyl acetate, and methanol). The ethyl acetate extract of C. arvensis flowers (CAF EtOAC) had cytotoxic activity against MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells, with IC50 values of 70 and 78 µg/mL, respectively. Microscopic examination revealed concentration-dependent cell shrinkage, cell detachment, nuclear fragmentation, and chromatin condensation. The CAF EtOAC inhibited the migration of cultured cells in a scratch wounding assay, indicating a possible defense against metastasis. The same extract also caused apoptosis by downregulating Bcl-2 and upregulating Bax and caspase 3/7 activity. Phytochemical analyses revealed the presence of phenols and flavonoids, and gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy (GC-MS) revealed a high content of linolenic acid in the extract. Based on our data, the CAF EtOAC may provide active ingredients for the development of novel chemotherapeutics for breast cancer therapy.


Apoptosis Breast cancer Calendula arvensis Cell migration GC-MS analysis 



The authors extend their appreciation to the Deanship of Scientific Research at King Saud University for funding the work through the research group project No. RG-1439-030.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nael Abutaha
    • 1
    Email author
  • Fahd A. Nasr
    • 2
  • Al-Zahrani Mohammed
    • 3
  • AbdelHabib Semlali
    • 4
  • Fahd A. Al-Mekhlafi
    • 1
  • Mohamed A. Wadaan
    • 1
  1. 1.Bioproducts Research Chair, Department of Zoology, College of ScienceKing Saud UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia
  2. 2.Medicinal Aromatic, and Poisonous Plants Research Centre, College of PharmacyKing Saud UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia
  3. 3.College of Science, Biology DepartmentAl Imam Mohammad Ibn Saud Islamic University (IMSIU)RiyadhSaudi Arabia
  4. 4.Groupe de Recherche en Écologie Buccale, Faculté de Médecine DentaireUniversité LavalQuébecCanada

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