Daphne altaica Pall. (Thymelaeaceae) is a medicinal plant that has long been used to treat cancer and respiratory ailments in Traditional Kazakh Medicine. In order to systematically evaluate its potential anticancer activity, six extracts of different polarity, namely: aqueous, n-butanol, ethyl acetate, chloroform, petroleum ether and ethanol extracts were obtained from this plant and they were tested for their antiproliferative effects on four human cancer cell lines: esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, gastric carcinoma, hepatoma and cervical carcinoma cells. Results from the proliferation assay showed that all extracts, except for aqueous extract, exhibited a dose-dependent growth inhibitory effect on all cancer cell lines. Of these extracts, two fractions obtained from partitioning of ethanol extract, namely: chloroform extract and ethyl acetate extract, could be considered a potential source of anticancer compounds. Further studies are necessary for identification and chemical characterization of the active principles.
Key words: Daphne altaica, traditional Kazakh medicine, antiproliferative.
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