In Vitro Anti-proliferative Activity and Mechanism of Action of Anemone nemorosa

Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Mar 11;20(5):1217. doi: 10.3390/ijms20051217.


Anemone nemorosa is part of the Ranunculaceae genus Anemone (order Ranunculales) which comprises more than 150 species. Various parts of the plant have been used for the treatment of numerous medical conditions such as headaches, tertian agues, rheumatic gout, leprosy, lethargy, eye inflammation as well as malignant and corroding ulcers. The Anemone plants have been found to contain various medicinal compounds with anti-cancer, immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-microbial activities. To date there has been no reported evidence of its use in the treatment of cancer. However, due to the reported abundance of saponins which usually exert anti-cancer activity via cell cycle arrest and the induction of apoptosis, we investigated the mode of cell death induced by an aqueous A. nemorosa extract by using HeLa cervical cancer cells. Cisplatin was used as a positive control. With a 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) of 20.33 ± 2.480 µg/mL, treatment with A. nemorosa yielded a delay in the early mitosis phase of the cell cycle. Apoptosis was confirmed through fluorescent staining with annexin V-FITC. Apoptosis was more evident with A. nemorosa treatment compared to the positive control after 24 and 48 h. Tetramethylrhodamine ethyl ester staining showed a decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential at 24 and 48 h. The results obtained imply that A. nemorosa may have potential anti-proliferative properties.

Keywords: A. nemorosa; HeLa; apoptosis; cytotoxicity.

MeSH terms

  • Anemone / chemistry*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Autophagy / drug effects
  • Caspase 3 / metabolism
  • Caspase 8 / metabolism
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • HeLa Cells
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Membrane Potential, Mitochondrial / drug effects
  • Micronuclei, Chromosome-Defective / drug effects
  • Phosphorylation
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Histones
  • Plant Extracts
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Caspase 3
  • Caspase 8