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In vitro cytotoxic screening of selected Saudi medicinal plants


Many natural products from plants have been identified to exert anticancer activity. It might be expected to be a challenge to look at the Saudi plants in order to discover new sources for new molecules which may have anticancer activity. The methanolic extracts of forty species of plants traditionally used in Saudi Arabia for the treatment of a variety of diseases were tested in vitro for their potential anticancer activity on different human cancer cell lines. The cytotoxic activity of the methanolic extracts of the tested plants were determined using three human cancer cell lines, namely, breast cancer (MCF7), hepatocellular carcinoma (HEPG2), and cervix cancer (HELA) cells. In addition, human normal melanocyte (HFB4) was used as normal nonmalignant cells. Sulforhodamine B colorimetric assay was used to evaluate the in vitro cytotoxic activity of the different extracts. The growth inhibition of 50% (IC50) for each extract was calculated from the optical density of treated and untreated cells. Doxorubicin, a broad-spectrum anticancer drug, was used as the positive control. Nine plant extracts were chosen for further fractionation based on their activity and availability. Interesting cytotoxic activity was observed for Hypoestes forskaolii, Withania somnifera, Solanum glabratum, Adenium obesum, Pistacia vera oleoresin, Caralluma quadrangula, Eulophia petersii, Phragmanthera austroarabica, and Asparagus officinalis. Other extracts showed poor activity.

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The authors are grateful to the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for funding this project (No. AT-67-28). The authors also thank the staff members of the Department of Biology, College of Science, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for the identification of the plant materials and to Prof. Ahmed S. Gushash, Faculty of Art, Al-Baha University for supplying some of plant materials.

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Correspondence to Essam A. Abdel-Sattar.

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Almehdar, H., Abdallah, H.M., Osman, AM.M. et al. In vitro cytotoxic screening of selected Saudi medicinal plants. J Nat Med 66, 406–412 (2012).

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  • Plant extracts
  • In vitro cytotoxic activity
  • Sulforhodamine B colorimetric assay
  • Caralluma quadrangula
  • Hypoestes forskaolii
  • Solanum glabratum