An investigation into the chemopreventive properties of an indigenous herb, Amaranthus lividus, using cancerous cell lines.
Chemoprevention may be defined as the inhibition, delay or reversal of carcinogenesis by dietary compounds or their derivatives. "Imifino" is a collective name for many wild plants used predominantly by rural people as herbs in cooking. Many of these herbs possess medicinal properties. As the rural population is at higher risk of exposure to dietary carcinogens, such as mycotoxins, this pilot study was undertaken to determine whether the Amaranthus lividus plant held potential for use in chemopreventive strategies. The plant leaves were extracted to obtain individual solvent fractions. Cytotoxic profiling of the fractions using the SNO oesophageal adenocarcinoma cell line and normal human lymphocytes was achieved using the methylthiazol tetrazolium salt bioreduction assay. The SNO cell line, the A549 lung adenocarcinoma cell line and normal human lymphocytes were utilised for the evaluation of the anti-mycotoxigenic potential of the plant fractions in combination with two important dietary carcinogens, aflatoxin B1 and fumonisin B1. A specific biomarker assay (the induction of reduced glutathione) was employed using the SNO cell line. Flow cytometry was also conducted to determine the apoptotic properties of the acetone fraction on normal human lymphocytes. The results of the anti-mycotoxigenic study showed that certain fractions did have protective effects against both of the carcinogens tested. In addition, these effects were noted in the two cancerous cell lines, which were of different tissue origin. None of the fractions tested were toxic towards the normal human lymphocytes. The glutathione assay indicated that certain acetone fraction dilutions were inducive to reduced glutathione production. This plant is a promising candidate for further investigation concerning chemoprevention and the rural community could be educated on the possible benefits of this herb.