Activation of intrinsic apoptotic signaling pathway in cancer cells by Cymbopogon citratus polysaccharide fractions

Carbohydr Polym. 2014 Jul 17;107:138-50. doi: 10.1016/j.carbpol.2014.02.039. Epub 2014 Feb 20.


Essential oils of Cymbopogon citratus were already reported to have wide ranging medical and industrial applications. However, information on polysaccharides from the plant and their anticancer activities are limited. In the present study, polysaccharides from C. citratus were extracted and fractionated by anion exchange and gel filtration chromatography. Two different polysaccharide fractions such as F1 and F2 were obtained, and these fractions were found to have distinct acidic polysaccharides as characterized by their molecular weight and sugar content. NMR spectral analysis revealed the presence of (1→4) linked b-d-Xylofuranose moiety in these polysaccharides. Using these polysaccharide fractions F1 and F2, anti-inflammatory and anticancer activities were evaluated against cancer cells in vitro and the mechanism of action of the polysaccharides in inducing apoptosis in cancer cells via intrinsic pathway was also proposed. Two different reproductive cancer cells such as Siha and LNCap were employed for in vitro studies on cytotoxicity, induction of apoptosis and apoptotic DNA fragmentation, changes in mitochondrial membrane potential, and profiles of gene and protein expression in response to treatment of cells by the polysaccharide fractions. These polysaccharide fractions exhibited potential cytotoxic and apoptotic effects on carcinoma cells, and they induced apoptosis in these cells through the events of up-regulation of caspase 3, down-regulation of bcl-2 family genes followed by cytochrome c release.

Keywords: Cancer cells; Cymbopogon citratus; Cytotoxicity; Gene expression; Intrinsic apoptotic pathway; Plant polysaccharide; Xylofuranose.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Caspase 3 / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cymbopogon / chemistry*
  • DNA Fragmentation / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Membrane Potential, Mitochondrial / drug effects
  • Molecular Weight
  • Polysaccharides / chemistry
  • Polysaccharides / pharmacology*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • Time Factors


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Polysaccharides
  • Caspase 3