Novel molecular, cytotoxical, and immunological study on promising and selective anticancer activity of mung bean sprouts

BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012 Nov 5;12:208. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-12-208.


Background: The anticancer and immunomodulatory activity of mung bean sprouts (MBS) and the underlying mechanisms against human cervical and hepatocarcinoma cancer cells were explored.

Methods: MBS cytotoxicity and MBS-induced anticancer cytokines, TNF-α and IFN-β from cancer cells, and immunological cytokines, IL-4, IFN-γ, and IL-10 from peripheral mononuclear cells (PMNC) were assessed by MTS and ELISA assays. Apoptotic cells were investigated by flow cytometry. The expression level of apoptotic genes (Bax, BCL-2, Capsases 7-9) and cell cycle regulatory genes (cyclin D, E, and A) and tumor suppressor proteins (p27, p21, and p53) was assessed by real-time qPCR in the cancer cells treated with extract IC50.

Results: The cytotoxicity on normal human cells was significantly different from HeLa and HepG2 cells, 163.97 ± 5.73, 13.3 ± 0.89, and 14.04 ± 1.5 mg/ml, respectively. The selectivity index (SI) was 12.44 ± 0.83 for HeLa and 11.94 ± 1.2 for HepG2 cells. Increased levels of TNF-α and IFN-β were observed in the treated HeLa and HepG2 culture supernatants when compared with untreated cells. MBS extract was shown to be an immunopolarizing agent by inducing IFNγ and inhibiting IL-4 production by PBMC; this leads to triggering of CMI and cellular cytotoxicity. The extract induced apoptosis, in a dose and time dependent manner, in treated HeLa and HepG2, but not in untreated, cells (P < 0.05). The treatment significantly induced cell cycle arrest in G0/G1 in HeLa cells. The percentage of cells in G0/G1 phase of the treated HeLa cells increased from 62.87 ± 2.1%, in untreated cells, to 80.48 ± 2.97%. Interestingly, MBS IC50 induced the expression of apoptosis and tumor suppressor related genes in both HeLa and HepG2 cells. MBS extract succeeded in inducing cdk-inhibitors, p21, p53, and p27 in HeLa cells while it induced only p53 in HepG2 cells (P < 0.05). This is a clue for the cell type- specific interaction of the studied extract. These proteins inhibit the cyclin-cdk complexes apart from the presence of some other components that might stimulate some cyclins such as cyclin E, A, and D.

Conclusion: MBS extract was shown to be a potent anticancer agent granting new prospects of anticancer therapy using natural products.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / therapeutic use*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Apoptosis / genetics
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints / drug effects
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints / genetics
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor Proteins / genetics
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor Proteins / metabolism
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Cyclins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Fabaceae*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • HeLa Cells
  • Hep G2 Cells
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular / drug effects
  • Immunologic Factors / pharmacology
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use*
  • Inhibitory Concentration 50
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear
  • Liver Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Liver Neoplasms / genetics
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Seeds
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / metabolism
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / genetics
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor Proteins
  • Cyclins
  • Cytokines
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Plant Extracts
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinases