The total phenolic, flavonoid and tannin contents in leaves extracts of Ocimum basilicum (OB) (Lamiaceae) international cultivars, as well as their overall antioxidant activities using DPPH and linoleic acid assays, were investigated. Furthermore, the antiproliferative and cytotoxic activities against line HeLa, MCF-7, Jurkat, HT-29, T24, MIAPaCa-2 cancer cells and one normal human cell line HEK-293 were examined. DPPH and linoleic acid assays ranged from 75.8% to 93.3% and from 74.5% to 97.1%; respectively. O. b. 'purple ruffle', O. b. 'dark opale', O. b. 'genovese', O. b. 'anise', O. b. 'bush green' and O. b. L. (OBL) varied in their antiproliferative and cytotoxic activities, influenced cell cycle progression and stimulated apoptosis in most cancer cells. OBL exhibited the highest antioxidant and antiproliferative activities. OB extracts not only improve taste but also have certain anticancer activity against diverse cancer cells due to the presence of compounds such as rosmarinic acid, chicoric acid and caftaric acid. Thus, OB represents a potent source of anticancer materials.
Keywords: anticancer; antioxidants; basil; phenolics.