Pharmacological Activities and Characterization of Phenolic and Flavonoid Compounds in Methanolic Extract of Euphorbia cuneata Vahl Aerial Parts

Molecules. 2021 Dec 3;26(23):7345. doi: 10.3390/molecules26237345.


Euphorbia cuneata Vahl. (Euphorbiaceae) is a plant used in folk medicine for the treatment of pain and inflammation, although the biological basis for these effects has not been thoroughly investigated. The goal of this study was to investigate the pharmacological properties and characterization of phenolic and flavonoid compounds present in the aerial parts of E. cuneata. E. cuneata aerial parts were tested for antioxidant activity (DPPH), antibacterial activity, cell viability and cytotoxic effects, and anti-inflammatory activity. Phenolic and flavonoid contents (HPLC), and volatile constituents (GC-MS) were also characterized. The methanol extract had the highest antioxidant activity, while the ether extract had the lowest. The antioxidant activity of E. cuneata extract increased from (21.11%) at a concentration of 10 µg/mL to (95.53%) at a concentration of 1280 µg/mL. S. aureus was the most sensitive organism with the highest zone of inhibition and lowest MIC, with acetone extract; whereas C. tropicalis was the most resistant, with the lowest inhibition zone. MTT assay revealed that the methanol extract of E. cuneata had significant cytotoxic effects on the A549, Caco-2, and MDA-MB-231 cell lines, respectively. Lower concentrations of methanolic extract gave anti-inflammatory activity, and those effects were compared with indomethacin as a positive control. Pyrogallol was the most abundant phenolic acid, followed by caffeic, p-coumaric, ferulic, syringic, and gallic acids, respectively. The 7-hydroxyflavone and rutin flavonoids were also found in the extract. GC-mass analysis showed that aerial parts of E. cuneata were rich in methyl 12-hydroxy-9-octadecenoate. The volatile components were also composed of considerable amounts of hexadecanoic acid, methyl ester, (9E,12E)-octadeca-9,12-dienoyl chloride, and methyl octadeca-9,12-dienoate as well as a little amount of hexanal dimethyl acetal. It can be concluded that methanolic extract of E. cuneata could be used as an available source of natural bioactive constituents with consequent health benefits.

Keywords: Euphorbia cuneata Vahl.; anti-inflammatory; antibacterial; antioxidant; cell lines; cytotoxicity; flavonoids; phenolics.

MeSH terms

  • A549 Cells
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Caco-2 Cells
  • Euphorbia / chemistry*
  • Flavonoids / chemistry
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Methanol / chemistry
  • Phenols / chemistry
  • Phenols / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Flavonoids
  • Phenols
  • Plant Extracts
  • Methanol