Role of reactive oxygen species in the anticancer activity of botanicals: Comparing sensitivity profiles

Oncol Lett. 2017 Apr;13(4):2642-2648. doi: 10.3892/ol.2017.5747. Epub 2017 Feb 17.


Numerous botanicals have been shown to exhibit in vitro and in vivo anticancer activity, some of which is the result of the induction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in cancer cells with a high ROS content. The present study compared sensitivities to a series of botanicals among cancer cell lines, using an XTT viability test, in order to create a specific cancer-herb profile. Of the 27 botanicals screened, 10 exhibited a cytotoxic effect, 7 of which were ROS-mediated. The sensitivity profiles of the ROS-inducing botanicals in 10 cancer cell lines were similar, unlike 3 cytotoxic ROS-independent botanicals that displayed divergent botanical-specific profiles. The correlation between sensitivity profiles of ROS-inducing botanicals suggests a common mechanism of action, in contrast to the varied mechanism of ROS-independent botanicals. This implies that the investigation of the anticancer activity of botanicals should start with the examination of ROS-mediated activity. Further investigation of ROS sensitivity among various tumor types is required in order to guide research into developing evidence-based guidelines in the use of botanicals for cancer treatment.

Keywords: botanical; cancer; cytotoxic; reactive oxygen species; sensitivity profile.