Background: So far, the anticancer action of pine tree extracts has mainly been shown for the species distributed widely around the Asian countries.
Objective: Therefore, this study was performed to examine the potential cytotoxicity of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) native also to the European region and growing widely in Estonia.
Materials and methods: The cytotoxic activity of methanol extract and essential oil of Scots pine needles was determined by sulforhodamine B assay in different human cancer cell lines.
Results: This needle extract was found to suppress the viability of several human cancer cell lines showing some selectivity to estrogen receptor negative breast cancer cells, MDA-MB-231(half maximal inhibitory concentration [IC50] 35 μg/ml) in comparison with estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer cells, MCF-7 (IC50 86 μg/ml). It is the strongest cytotoxic effect at all measured, thus far for the needles and leaves extracts derived from various pine species, and is also the first study comparing the anticancer effects of pine tree extracts on molecularly different human breast cancer cells. The essential oil showed the stronger cytotoxic effect to both negative and positive breast cancer cell lines (both IC50 29 μg/ml) than pine extract (IC50 42 and 80 μg/ml, respectively).
Conclusion: The data from this report indicate that Scots pine needles extract and essential oil exhibits some potential as chemopreventive or chemotherapeutic agent for mammary tumors unresponsive to endocrine treatment.
Keywords: Anticancer effect; Pinus sylvestris; mammary adenocarcinoma; pine extract; pine oil.