Isolation and characterization of cytotxic compounds from Anthosperum hispidulum and Eriocephalus tenuifolius.
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Cancer is a human tragedy that strikes and kills the lives of our beloved people. With a limited number of effective anticancer drugs from natural resources currently in use, there is a real need for new, safe, cheap and effective anticancer drugs to combat this dreaded and formidable disease. Plants have a long history of use in the treatment of cancer. Several plant-derived anticancer agents including taxol, vinblastine, vincristine, the camptothecin derivatives, topotecan and irinotecan and etoposide derived from epi- podophyllotoxin are in clinical use all over the world. In this study, two endemic plant species from the Rubiaceae and Asteraceae families, namely Anthospermum hispidulum E.Mey. ex Sond. and Eriocephalus tenuifolius DC. were investigated for their anticancer properties. The organic (methanol/dichloromethane, 1:1 v/v) extracts of both plant species were found to have moderate anticancer activity against a panel of three human cancer cell lines namely, breast MCF7, renal TK10 and melanoma UACC62 at the CSIR anticancer screen. Bioassay-guided fractionation of the organic extracts of Anthospermum hispidulum led to the isolation of an active compound which was characterised as ursolic acid. Another compound, namely scopoletin was also isolated. The compounds isolated here are known compounds, but have not previously been reported as present in the genus Anthospermum. Bioassay-guided fractionation of the organic extracts of Eriocephalus tenuifolius resulted in the isolation of 8-O-isobutanoylcumambrin B as the active constituent. This compound is reported to have been isolated from related plant species; however its biological activity is not known. The compounds pectolinagenin, hispidulin, friedelinol and tetracosanoic acid were also isolated, but did not show any significant anticancer activity. The structures of all compounds isolated in this study were elucidated using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, mass spectroscopy and also by comparison with data reported in the literature.