Evaluation of Anticancer Effects of a Pharmaceutically Viable Extract of a Traditional Polyherbal Mixture Against Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer Cells

J Integr Med. 2020 May;18(3):242-252. doi: 10.1016/j.joim.2020.02.007. Epub 2020 Feb 20.


Objective: The present work tested organic solvents to prepare an extract with anticancer properties from a polyherbal mixture containing Nigella sativa (seeds), Hemidesmus indicus (roots) and Smilax glabra (rhizomes). We evaluate anticancer effects in non-small-cell lung cancer cells (NCI-H292), and discuss optimization for pharmaceutical use in the context of efficacy, yield and toxicity.

Methods: Using different organic solvents, six extracts were prepared from the polyherbal mixture. Based on the cytotoxic effects of these extracts on NCI-H292 cells and normal lung cells (MRC-5), as evaluated by the sulphorhodamine B assay, the total ethyl acetate (T-EA) extract was selected for further analysis. The possible anticancer mechanisms were assessed by evaluating the extract's effects on apoptosis (through fluorescent microscopic analysis, DNA fragmentation analysis, caspase 3/7 assay and analysis of expression levels of apoptosis-related genes p53, Bax, survivin, Hsp70 and Hsp90), colony formation and antioxidant activity.

Results: The extract had cytotoxic effects against NCI-H292 cells in a time- and dose-dependent manner. Significant antioxidant activity and inhibition of colony formation were also observed. The expression level of caspase 3/7 significantly (P < 0.001) increased in NCI-H292 cells treated with 50 μg/mL of the extract. The same dosage led to a significant increase in expression levels of Bax and p53 (P < 0.05 and P < 0.01 respectively), accompanied by a significant decrease (P < 0.0001) in survivin, Hsp70 and Hsp90.

Conclusion: T-EA extract of the above polyherbal mixture has cytotoxicity against NCI-H292 cells via induction of apoptosis, antioxidant effects and inhibition of colony formation.

Keywords: Antioxidant activity; Apoptosis; Hemidesmus indicus; Lung cancer; Nigella sativa; Smilax glabra.