Echinacea Angustifolia DC Extract Induces Apoptosis and Cell Cycle Arrest and Synergizes with Paclitaxel in the MDA-MB-231 and MCF-7 Human Breast Cancer Cell Lines

Nutr Cancer. 2021;73(11-12):2287-2305. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2020.1817956. Epub 2020 Sep 22.


Background: Echinacea spp. displays different biological activities, such as antiviral, immunomodulatory, and anticancer activities. Currently, high sales of hydroalcoholic extracts of Echinacea have been reported; hence, the importance of studies on Echinacea.

Aim: To establish the effects of Echinacea angustifolia DC extract obtained with ethyl acetate (Ea-AcOEt) in breast cancer cell lines.

Methods: Cytotoxicity, cell cycle arrest, and cell death were evaluated. Besides, the safety of the extract, as well as its effect in combination with paclitaxel were investigated.

Results: The echinacoside and caffeic acid content in the Ea-AcOEt extract were quantified by HPLC, and its antioxidant activity was assessed. The Ea-AcOEt extract showed cytotoxic activity on breast cancer MDA-MB-231 cells (IC50 28.18 ± 1.14 µg/ml) and MCF-7 cells (19.97 ± 2.31 µg/ml). No effect was observed in normal breast MCF-10 cells. The Ea-AcOEt extract induced cell cycle arrest in the G1 phase and caspase-mediated apoptosis. No genotoxicity was found in vitro or in vivo, and the extract showed no signs of toxicity or death at 2,000 mg/kg in rodents. In vitro, the combination of Ea-AcOEt extract and paclitaxel showed a synergistic effect on both cancer cell lines.

Conclusion: The Ea-AcOEt extract is a potential candidate for breast cancer treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • Breast Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Echinacea*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • MCF-7 Cells
  • Paclitaxel / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology


  • Plant Extracts
  • Paclitaxel