Ripe fruit of Solanum nigrum L. inhibits cell growth and induces apoptosis in MCF-7 cells

Food Chem Toxicol. 2003 Oct;41(10):1421-8. doi: 10.1016/s0278-6915(03)00161-3.


Solanum nigrum L. (SNL) has been traditionally used as a herbal plant, whose fruit is believed to have anti-tumor properties, although the mechanism for the activity remains to be elucidated. In this study, we prepared an ethanol extract from ripe fruits of SNL and investigated the mechanism involved in its growth-inhibitory effect on MCF-7 human breast cancer cells. Results from proliferation assay using tritium uptake showed that the proliferative capacity of MCF-7 cells was strongly suppressed in the presence of SNL ethanol extract. This was further confirmed through MTT assay and trypan blue exclusion experiments, which showed a very close correlation between the SNL extract concentration and the surviving cell numbers. The SNL extract-mediated suppression of cell growth was verified to be apoptotic, based on the appearance of DNA laddering, increase in DNA fragmentation, and low fluorescence intensity in nuclei after propidium iodide staining of the cells. Furthermore, the SNL extract was revealed to be a potential scavenger of hydroxyl radicals and DPPH radicals rather than superoxide anions. Collectively, our findings suggest that SNL fruit extract could be used as an anti-oxidant and cancer chemo-preventive material.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / analysis
  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Biphenyl Compounds
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • DNA Fragmentation / drug effects
  • DNA, Neoplasm / biosynthesis
  • DNA, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Free Radicals / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydroxyl Radical / analysis
  • Phenols / chemistry
  • Picrates / chemistry
  • Solanum nigrum / chemistry*
  • Superoxides / chemistry
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antioxidants
  • Biphenyl Compounds
  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • Free Radicals
  • Phenols
  • Picrates
  • Superoxides
  • Hydroxyl Radical
  • 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl