Cytotoxic and cell cycle arrest properties of two steroidal alkaloids isolated from Holarrhena floribunda (G. Don) T. Durand & Schinz leaves

J. A. Badmus, O. E. Ekpo, A. A. Hussein, M. Meyer, D. C. Hiss

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23 Scopus citations


Background: The plant Holarrhena floribunda (H. floribunda; G. Don) is indigenous to sub-Saharan Africa and is traditionally used to treat several ailments. The present study was carried out to isolate and characterize bioactive compounds with anti-proliferative activity present in H. floribunda extracts. Methods: Compounds were isolated from H. floribunda using the bioassay-guided fractionation technique of repeated column chromatography and the step-wise application of the MTT reduction assay to assess antiproliferative bioactivity. The structures of the compounds were identified mainly using NMR. The effects of the isolated compounds on the viability, cell cycle and proliferation of human cancer cell lines (MCF-7, HeLa and HT-29) as well as the non-cancerous human fibroblast cell line (KMST-6) were investigated. Results: Bioassay-guided fractionation yielded two steroidal alkaloids: holamine (1) and funtumine (2). The MTT reduction assay shows that both compounds exhibited selective dose-dependent cytotoxicity against the cancer cell lines studied. The isolated compounds induced cell cycle arrest at the G0/G1 and G2/M phases in the cancer cell lines with significant reduction in DNA synthesis. The results obtained show that the cancer cells (MCF-7, HeLa and HT-29) used in this study were more sensitive to the isolated compounds compared to the noncancerous fibroblast cells (KMST-6). Conclusion: The ability of the isolated compounds to cause cell cycle arrest and reduce DNA synthesis raises hopes for their possible development and use as potent anticancer drugs. However, more mechanistic studies need to be done for complete validation of the efficacy of the two compounds.

Original languageBritish English
Article number112
JournalBMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 31 May 2019


  • Cell cycle
  • Cytotoxicity
  • H. floribunda
  • Steroidal alkaloids


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