Cytotoxic Effects of Artemisia annua L. and Pure Artemisinin on the D-17 Canine Osteosarcoma Cell Line

Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2019 Jul 4:2019:1615758. doi: 10.1155/2019/1615758. eCollection 2019.


Artemisia annua has been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Although used as an antimalarial drug, its active compound artemisinin and the semisynthetic derivatives have also been investigated for their anticancer properties, with interesting and promising results. The aims of this research were to evaluate (i) the cytotoxicity and the antiproliferative effect of pure artemisinin and a hydroalcoholic extract obtained from A. annua on the D-17 canine osteosarcoma cell line and (ii) the intracellular iron concentration and its correlation with the cytotoxic effects. Both artemisinin and hydroalcoholic extract induced a cytotoxic effect in a dose-dependent manner. Pure artemisinin caused an increase of cells in the S phase, whereas the hydroalcoholic extract induced an evident increase in the G2/M phase. A significant decrease of iron concentration was measured in D-17 cells treated with pure artemisinin and hydroalcoholic extract compared to untreated cells. In conclusion, although preliminary, the data obtained in this study are indicative of a more potent cytotoxic activity of the hydroalcoholic extract than pure artemisinin, indicating a possible synergistic effect of the phytocomplex and a mechanism of action involving iron and possibly ferroptosis. Considering the similarities between human and canine osteosarcomas, progress in deepening knowledge and improving therapeutic protocols will probably be relevant for both species, in a model of reciprocal translational medicine.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Artemisia annua / chemistry*
  • Artemisinins / chemistry*
  • Cell Line
  • Dogs
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional
  • Osteosarcoma / drug therapy*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry*


  • Artemisinins
  • Plant Extracts