Piper betel leaf extract: anticancer benefits and bio-guided fractionation to identify active principles for prostate cancer management

Carcinogenesis. 2013 Jul;34(7):1558-66. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgt066. Epub 2013 Feb 21.


Plant extracts, a concoction of bioactive non-nutrient phytochemicals, have long served as the most significant source of new leads for anticancer drug development. Explored for their unique medicinal properties, the leaves of Piper betel, an evergreen perennial vine, are a reservoir of phenolics with antimutagenic, antitumor and antioxidant activities. Here, we show that oral feeding of betel leaf extract (BLE) significantly inhibited the growth of human prostate xenografts implanted in nude mice compared with vehicle-fed controls. To gain insights into the 'active principles', we performed a bioactivity-guided fractionation of methanolic BLE employing solvents of different polarity strengths using classical column chromatography. This approach yielded 15 fractions, which were then pooled to 10 using similar retention factors on thin-layer chromatographs. Bioactivity assays demonstrated that one fraction in particular, F2, displayed a 3-fold better in vitro efficacy to inhibit proliferation of prostate cancer cells than the parent BLE. The presence of phenols, hydroxychavicol (HC) and chavibetol (CHV), was confirmed in F2 by nuclear magnetic resonance, high-performance liquid chromatography and mass spectroscopy. Further, the HC containing F2 subfraction was found to be ~8-fold more potent than the F2 subfraction that contained CHV, in human prostate cancer PC-3 cells as evaluated by the 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazole-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide assay. Removing CHV from F2 remarkably decreased the IC50 of this fraction, indicating that HC is perhaps the major bioactive constituent, which is present to an extent of 26.59% in BLE. These data provide evidence that HC is a potential candidate for prostate cancer management and warrants further preclinical evaluation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / therapeutic use*
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Chemical Fractionation
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Eugenol / analogs & derivatives
  • Eugenol / chemistry
  • Eugenol / isolation & purification
  • Eugenol / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Inhibitory Concentration 50
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Male
  • Methanol / chemistry
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Phytotherapy
  • Piper / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Solvents / chemistry
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Plant Extracts
  • Solvents
  • 2-hydroxychavicol
  • Eugenol
  • chavibetol
  • Methanol