In this study, we found that the total polyphenol and ascorbic acid levels in the fruit of Opuntia humifusa are higher than those in other parts of the plant. We further hypothesized that antioxidants in O. humifusa might affect the growth or survival of cancer cells. Hexane extracts of seeds and ethyl acetate extracts of fruits and stems significantly suppressed the proliferation of HeLa cervical carcinoma cells, but did not affect the proliferation of normal human BJ fibroblasts. Additionally, the extracts of O. humifusa induced G1 phase arrest in HeLa cells. The O. humifusa extracts reduced the levels of G1 phase-associated cyclin D1, cyclin-dependent kinase 4 (Cdk4), and phosphorylated retinoblastoma proteins. Moreover, p21(WAF1/Cip1) and p53 expression significantly increased after treatment. We examined the effects of ethyl acetate extracts of O. humifusa fruit (OHF) on HeLa cells xenograft tumor growth. OHF treatment significantly reduced tumor volume and this decrease was correlated with decreased Cdk4 and cyclin D1 expression. Furthermore, flavonoids, trans Taxifolin, and dihydrokaempferol, were isolated from OHF. Thus, this extract may be a promising candidate for treating human cervical carcinoma.
Keywords: Cdk4; Cyclin D; G1 phase arrest; HeLa cell; Opuntia humifusa; antiproliferative activity.