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Journal of Environmental Pathology, Toxicology and Oncology
IF: 1.15 5-Year IF: 1.4 SJR: 0.519 SNIP: 0.613 CiteScore™: 1.61

ISSN Print: 0731-8898
ISSN Online: 2162-6537

Journal of Environmental Pathology, Toxicology and Oncology

DOI: 10.1615/JEnvironPatholToxicolOncol.v30.i1.80
pages 83-92

Comparative evaluation of the cytotoxic and apoptotic potential of Poecilocerus pictus and Calotropis gigantea

Caroline Mathen
OCT Therapies LLP
Shiney Mary Peter
Department of Animal Biotechnology, The Kelkar Education Trust's Scientific Research Centre, Mumbai, India
Bhagyashree P. Hardikar
V.G. Vaze College of Arts, Science and Commerce, Mumbai, India


Calotropis gigantea, the giant milkweed, is used traditionally for treatment against cancer and in Ayurveda as an antihelminthic, anti-pyretic and an anti-malarial agent. Poecilocerus pictus, an orthopteran insect feeds on Calotropis gigantea and both are known to possess cardiac glycosides. The increasing reports on the specific cytotoxicity of cardiac glycosides on human tumor cell lines led us to attempt characterization and comparative evaluation of cardenolides in both the insect and plant extracts for their anti-tumor and apoptotic potential. Chemical characterization using HPTLC, UV and IR analyses confirmed the presence of cardiac glycosides but differences in the components of the insect extract were indicative of biotransformation. The cytotoxicity studies revealed a more potent trend for the insect extract as compared to the plant extract on A549 and COLO205 cells. There was a considerably lesser measure of toxicity on WI38 cells and peripheral blood lymphocytes, while B16F1 remained unaffected by both the extracts. DNA ploidy analysis on COLO205 indicated that both the extracts induced dose dependent apoptosis. Thus both the insect and plant extracts differentiate between human cancer cells and normal cells and exhibit species specificity. Further investigations are necessary to establish both the extracts as promising lead candidates for antineoplastic activity.

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