Cytotoxic effects of leaf, stem and root extracts of Nerium oleander on leukemia cell lines and role of the p-glycoprotein in this effect

J Exp Ther Oncol. 2006;6(1):31-8.


Nerium oleander (No), is a toxic plant. In recent studies, it was determined that the extracts of this plant are effective to treat some types of cancer, but these studies are limited and do not include human leukemia. In the present study, firstly we aimed to investigate in vitro the cytotoxic effects of No on the HL60 and K562 leukemia cell lines. The cells were incubated with six different concentrations of each three extracts. MTT assay was employed as a cytotoxicity test. It was observed that concentrations of 1000, 500 and 50 microg/ml from each extract possess marked antileukemic effects. No leaf and root extracts were seen to be more cytotoxic than the stem extract according to LC50. Secondly, in order to understand the role of P-gp in cytotoxicity, P-gp levels of K562 resistant and sensitive cells were measured by flow cytometry before treatment extracts, and then, the cells were incubated with No leaf, stem and root extracts in 500 microg/ml concentrations overnight. After incubation, measurements showed decreased levels of P-gp in the cells. Hence, it is possible to think contributes to their cytotoxic effects that inhibiting of the P-gp pump by No extracts on leukemia cell lines.

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1 / physiology*
  • Cardenolides / pharmacology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • HL-60 Cells
  • Humans
  • K562 Cells
  • Leukemia / drug therapy*
  • Nerium / metabolism*
  • Phytotherapy / methods*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism*
  • Plant Roots / metabolism
  • Plant Stems / metabolism*
  • Tetrazolium Salts / pharmacology
  • Thiazoles / pharmacology


  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1
  • Cardenolides
  • Plant Extracts
  • Tetrazolium Salts
  • Thiazoles
  • thiazolyl blue
  • oleandrin