Antigenotoxicity, cytotoxicity, and apoptosis induction by apigenin, bisabolol, and protocatechuic acid

J Med Food. 2011 Mar;14(3):276-83. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2010.0139. Epub 2010 Dec 23.


Medicinal plants represent an important resource in new drug research. Antioxidant properties of plants can help to scavenge reactive oxygen species. The objective of this work was to evaluate the genotoxic, antigenotoxic, tumoricidal, and apoptotic effect of some major phenols (apigenin, bisabolol, and protocatechuic acid) from two medicinal plants, Matricaria chamomilla and Uncaria tomentosa. The wing spot test of Drosophila melanogaster was used to evaluate the genotoxicity and antigenotoxicity of the three phenols. The human model of HL-60 leukemia cells was used for the assessment of the cytotoxic effect, growth, and cellular viability. The apoptotic effect was evaluated using a DNA fragmentation assay based on the formation of internucleosomal units. Protocatechuic acid (0.25 and 1 mM), apigenin (0.46 and 1.85 mM), and bisabolol (0.56 and 2.24 mM) did not exhibit any genotoxic effect. The three phenols showed an antigenotoxic effect against the hydrogen peroxide effect and also exhibited tumoricidal activity. Apigenin (2.24-35.96 mM) showed a lower 50% inhibitory concentration (0.75 and 3.87 mM for the trypan blue test and WST-8 colorimetric assay, respectively) than bisabolol and protocatechuic acid. These phenolics also induced apoptosis in HL-60 leukemia cells. This study suggests that the antioxidant activity of Chamomilla and Uncaria could be partially responsible of their beneficial activity.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antimutagenic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antimutagenic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / therapeutic use*
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Apigenin / pharmacology
  • Apigenin / therapeutic use
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • DNA Fragmentation
  • Drosophila
  • HL-60 Cells
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Hydroxybenzoates / pharmacology
  • Hydroxybenzoates / therapeutic use
  • Leukemia / drug therapy*
  • Matricaria / chemistry*
  • Monocyclic Sesquiterpenes
  • Phenols / pharmacology
  • Phenols / therapeutic use*
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Sesquiterpenes / pharmacology
  • Sesquiterpenes / therapeutic use
  • Uncaria / chemistry*


  • Antimutagenic Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Antioxidants
  • Hydroxybenzoates
  • Monocyclic Sesquiterpenes
  • Phenols
  • Plant Extracts
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • bisabolol
  • protocatechuic acid
  • Apigenin
  • Hydrogen Peroxide