Bioactive compounds from Mexican lime ( Citrus aurantifolia ) juice induce apoptosis in human pancreatic cells

J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Nov 25;57(22):10933-42. doi: 10.1021/jf901718u.


Lime (Citrus aurantifolia Swingle) is one of the major citrus fruits and widely consumed, but there is limited evidence about its health-promoting properties. Hence, an investigation was conducted to understand the chemopreventive effects of lime juice on pancreatic cancer cells and the possible mechanism for induction of apoptosis using Panc-28 cells. Freeze-dried lime juice was extracted with different solvents, such as chloroform, acetone, MeOH, and MeOH/water (8:2). The chloroform extract showed the highest (85.4 and 90%) radical-scavenging activity by 1,1-diphenyl-2-picryl hydrazyl (DPPH) and 2,2'-azino-bis(3-ethylbenzthiazoline-6-sulfonic acid) (ABTS) methods at 624 microg/mL, whereas the MeOH/water extract showed the lowest (<20%) activity. The active components were identified by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) using a C-18 column as rutin, neohesperidin, hesperidin, and hesperitin. Furthermore, the limonoids identified are limonexic acid, isolimonexic acid, and limonin. All of the extracts of lime juice inhibited Panc-28 cancer cell growth. The MeOH extract exhibited the maximum activity, with an IC50 value of 81.20 microg/mL after 72 h. The inhibition of Panc-28 cells was in the range of 73-89%, at 100 microg/mL at 96 h. The involvement of apoptosis in induction of cytotoxicity was confirmed by expression of Bax, Bcl-2, casapase-3, and p53. The results of the present study clearly indicate that antioxidant activity is proportionate to the content of flavonoids and proliferation inhibition ability is proportionate to the content of both flavonoids and limonoids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Antioxidants / analysis
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Citrus aurantiifolia / chemistry*
  • Flavonoids / analysis
  • Fruit / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Limonins / analysis
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Antioxidants
  • Flavonoids
  • Limonins
  • Plant Extracts