Antitumor activity and apoptotic action of coelomic fluid from the earthworm Dendrobaena veneta against A549 human lung cancer cells

APMIS. 2019 Jun;127(6):435-448. doi: 10.1111/apm.12941. Epub 2019 Mar 28.


It is known that earthworm coelomic fluid (CF) can affect not only cancer but also normal cells. The study demonstrated that the CF of the earthworm Dendrobaena veneta exhibited cytotoxicity against A549 lung cancer cells but did not toward the bronchial epithelial cell line BEAS-2B. The selective effect on the tumor cells was achieved after a short-term CF heat pre-treatment at 70 °C. The cytotoxic effect of the CF was time- and concentration-dependent. The CF noticeably decreased the viability and affected the morphology of the A549 cells. Scanning electron microscopy revealed a different degree of destruction of the nucleus and cytoplasm of A549 cells. As determined by atomic force microscopy, the cell surface roughness increased while the cell stiffness was reduced upon the CF treatment. A twofold increase in the caspase 3, 4, 5, and 10 levels was observed in the A549 cells after the incubation with the CF. The results obtained by flow cytometry using Annexin V confirmed the proapoptotic effect of the earthworm CF on A549 lung cancer cells. The D. veneta CF and active fraction obtained with cytotoxicity toward A549 lung cancer is an interesting and promising preparation for further biological, chemical, and biomedical research.

Keywords: Dendrobaena veneta; A549 cell line; anticancer activity; apoptosis; coelomic fluid.

MeSH terms

  • A549 Cells
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Body Fluids* / chemistry
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Oligochaeta*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Caspases