Objective: Conium maculatum extract is used as a traditional medicine for cervix carcinoma including homeopathy. However, no systematic work has so far been carried out to test its anti-cancer potential against cervix cancer cells in vitro. Thus, in this study, we investigated whether ethanolic extract of conium is capable of inducing cytotoxicity in different normal and cancer cell lines including an elaborate study in HeLa cells.
Materials and methods: Conium's effects on cell cycle, reactive oxygen species (ROS) accumulation, mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) and apoptosis, if any, were analyzed through flow cytometry. Whether Conium could damage DNA and induce morphological changes were also determined microscopically. Expression of different proteins related to cell death and survival was critically studied by western blotting and ELISA methods. If Conium could interact directly with DNA was also determined by circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy.
Results: Conium treatment reduced cell viability and colony formation at 48 h and inhibited cell proliferation, arresting cell cycle at sub-G stage. Conium treatment lead to increased generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) at 24 h, increase in MMP depolarization, morphological changes and DNA damage in HeLa cells along with externalization of phosphatidyl serine at 48 hours. While cytochrome c release and caspase-3 activation led HeLa cells toward apoptosis, down-regulation of Akt and NFkB inhibited cellular proliferation, indicating the signaling pathway to be mediated via the mitochondria-mediated caspase-3-dependent pathway. CD-spectroscopy revealed that Conium interacted with DNA molecule.
Conclusion: Overall results validate anti-cancer potential of Conium and provide support for its use in traditional systems of medicine.
Keywords: Apoptosis; Conium maculatum; drug-DNA interaction; proliferation; reactive oxygen species.