Effect of α, β momorcharin on viability, caspase activity, cytochrome c release and on cytosolic calcium levels in different cancer cell lines

Mol Cell Biochem. 2014 Mar;388(1-2):233-40. doi: 10.1007/s11010-013-1914-1. Epub 2013 Dec 3.


A multitude of plants have been used extensively for the treatment of cancers throughout the world. The protein, α, β momorcharin has been extracted from the plant Momordica charantia (MC), and it possesses anti-cancer and anti-HIV properties similar to the crude water and methanol soluble extract of the plant. This study investigated the anti-cancer effects and the cellular mechanisms of action of α, β momocharin (200-800 μM) on 1321N1, Gos-3, U87-MG, Sk Mel, Corl-23 and Weri Rb-1 cancer cell lines compared to normal healthy L6 muscle cell line measuring cell viability using MTT assay kit, Caspase-3 and 9 activities, cytochrome c release and intracellular free calcium concentrations [Ca(2+)]i. The results show that α, β momorcharin can evoke significant dose-dependent (P < 0.05; Student's t test) decreases in the viability (increases in cell death) of 1321N1, Gos-3, U87-MG, Sk Mel, Corl-23 and Weri Rb-1 cancer cell lines compared to healthy L6 muscle cell line and untreated glioma cells. α, β momorcharin (800 μM) also evoked significant (P < 0.05) increases in caspase-3 and 9 activities and cytochrome c release. Similarly, α, β momorcharin elicited significant (P < 0.05) time-dependent elevation in [Ca(2+)]i in all five glioma cell lines compared to untreated cells. Together, the results have demonstrated that α, β momorcharin can exert its anti-cancer effect on different cancer cell lines by intracellular processes involving an insult to the mitochondria resulting in cellular calcium over loading, apoptosis, cytochrome release and subsequently, cell death.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Caspase 3 / biosynthesis
  • Caspase 9 / biosynthesis
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cytochromes c / metabolism
  • Glioma / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Momordica charantia / metabolism
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Ribosome Inactivating Proteins / pharmacology*


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Plant Extracts
  • MMC protein, Momordica charantia
  • Cytochromes c
  • Ribosome Inactivating Proteins
  • Caspase 3
  • Caspase 9
  • Calcium