Journal of
Medicinal Plants Research

  • Abbreviation: J. Med. Plants Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0875
  • DOI: 10.5897/JMPR
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 3835

Full Length Research Paper

Cytotoxicity and mechanism(s) of action of Hypoxis spp. (African potato) against HeLa, HT-29 and MCF-7 cancer cell lines

Gerhardt J. Boukes and Maryna van de Venter*
Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, P. O. Box 77000, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth 6031, South Africa.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 25 January 2011
  •  Published: 04 July 2011


Hypoxis is one of the medicinal plants most frequently used by the indigenous people of South Africa. Although many species are used, most research has focused on Hypoxishemerocallidea with very little or no scientific evidence on other species. The main aim of this study was to investigate and compare the cytotoxicity and mechanisms of action of three Hypoxis spp., namely H. hemerocallideaHypoxis stellipilis and Hypoxis soboliferavar sobolifera. Cytotoxicity was determined against HeLa, HT-29 and MCF-7 cancer cell lines and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). DNA cell cycle arrest in the G1, S or G2/M phase was determined using propidium iodide staining. H. sobolifera, which showed the best cytotoxicity against all three cancer cell lines, was used to investigate caspase-3 and/or -7 activation and DNA fragmentation using fluorescence labelled primary caspase antibodies and the TUNEL-based assay, respectively. DNA cell cycle arrest occurred in the late G1 and/or early S phase, which was confirmed by increased p21Waf1/Cip1 activation; caspase-7 was mainly activated in the HeLa and HT-29 cancer cell lines and DNA fragmentation occurred in all three cancer cell lines. This study provides the first data to show that the cytotoxic mechanism of Hypoxis is exerted through the induction of cell cycle arrest and apoptosis.


Key words: Hypoxis, cytotoxicity, mechanism(s) of action.

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