Withania somnifera Root Extract Has Potent Cytotoxic Effect against Human Malignant Melanoma Cells

PLoS One. 2015 Sep 3;10(9):e0137498. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0137498. eCollection 2015.


In Ayurveda, Withania somnifera is commonly known as Ashwagandha, its roots are specifically used in medicinal and clinical applications. It possesses numerous therapeutic actions which include anti-inflammatory, sedative, hypnotic and narcotic. Extracts from this plant have been reported for its anticancer properties. In this study we evaluated for the first time, the cytotoxic effect of Withania root extract on human malignant melanoma A375 cells. The crude extract of Withania was tested for cytotoxicity against A375 cells by MTT assay. Cell morphology of treated A375 cells was visualized through phase contrast as well as fluorescence microscopy. Agarose gel electrophoresis was used to check DNA fragmentation of the crude extract treated cells. Crude extract of Withania root has the potency to reduce viable cell count in dose as well as time dependent manner. Morphological change of the A375 cells was also observed in treated groups in comparison to untreated or vehicle treated control. Apoptotic body and nuclear blebbing were observed in DAPI stained treated cells under fluorescence microscope. A ladder of fragmented DNA was noticed in treated cells. Thus it might be said that the crude water extract of Withania somnifera has potent cytotoxic effect on human malignant melanoma A375 cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / drug effects*
  • DNA Fragmentation / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Ayurvedic
  • Melanoma / drug therapy*
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Plant Roots*
  • Withania*


  • Plant Extracts

Grant support

The authors are thankful to the Department of Biotechnology, India and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, India for funding.