Calendula arvensis L. as an anti-cancer agent against breast cancer cell lines

Mol Biol Rep. 2019 Apr;46(2):2187-2196. doi: 10.1007/s11033-019-04672-3. Epub 2019 Feb 11.


Calendula arvensis L. is used in traditional folk medicine for the treatment of several diseases. Leaves, stems, and flowers of C. arvensis were extracted using a Soxhlet extractor with different solvents (i.e., hexane, chloroform, ethyl acetate, and methanol). The ethyl acetate extract of C. arvensis flowers (CAF EtOAC) had cytotoxic activity against MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells, with IC50 values of 70 and 78 µg/mL, respectively. Microscopic examination revealed concentration-dependent cell shrinkage, cell detachment, nuclear fragmentation, and chromatin condensation. The CAF EtOAC inhibited the migration of cultured cells in a scratch wounding assay, indicating a possible defense against metastasis. The same extract also caused apoptosis by downregulating Bcl-2 and upregulating Bax and caspase 3/7 activity. Phytochemical analyses revealed the presence of phenols and flavonoids, and gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy (GC-MS) revealed a high content of linolenic acid in the extract. Based on our data, the CAF EtOAC may provide active ingredients for the development of novel chemotherapeutics for breast cancer therapy.

Keywords: Apoptosis; Breast cancer; Calendula arvensis; Cell migration; GC-MS analysis.

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Calendula / chemistry
  • Calendula / metabolism*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Female
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology
  • Flowers / chemistry
  • Flowers / metabolism
  • Humans
  • MCF-7 Cells / drug effects
  • Medicine, Traditional / methods
  • Phenols / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • Plant Stems / chemistry
  • Plant Stems / metabolism


  • Antioxidants
  • Flavonoids
  • Phenols
  • Plant Extracts