The anti-proliferative effects of the aqueous and methanol extracts of leaves of Pereskia bleo (Kunth) DC (Cactaceae) against a mouse mammary cancer cell line (4T1) and a normal mouse fibroblast cell line (NIH/3T3) were evaluated under an optimal (in culture medium containing 10% foetal bovine serum (FBS)) and a sub-optimal (in culture medium containing 0.5% FBS) conditions. Under the optimal condition, the aqueous extract showed a significant (p<0.05) anti-proliferative effect at 200 microg/mL and 300 microg/mL in 4T1 cells and 300 microg/mL in NIH/3T3 cells, whereas the methanol extract did not show any notable anti-proliferative effect in these cell lines, at any of the concentrations tested. Under the sub-optimal condition, the aqueous extract showed a significant (p<0.05) anti-proliferative effect at 200 microg/mL and 300 microg/mL in NIH/3T3 cells, whilst the methanol extract showed a significant (p<0.05) anti-proliferative effect at 200 microg/mL and 300 microg/mL in both cell lines. An upward trend of apoptosis was observed in both 4T1 and NIH/3T3 cells treated with increasing concentrations of the aqueous extract. The level of apoptosis observed at all the concentrations of the aqueous extract tested was consistently higher than necrosis. There was a significant (p<0.05) increase in the level of necrosis observed in the 4T1 cells treated with 300 microg/mL of the methanol extract. Generally, the level of necrosis was noted to be higher than that of apoptosis in the methanol extract-treated cells. The mutagenicity assay performed showed that in the absence of S-9 liver metabolic activation, the extract was not mutagenic up to the concentration of 165 microg/mL . However, in the presence of S-9 liver metabolic activation, the aqueous extract was mutagenic at all the concentrations tested. This study shows that both the aqueous and methanol extracts of the leaves from Pereskia bleo (Kunth) DC (Cactaceae) do not have appreciable anti-proliferative effect on the 4T1 and NIH/3T3 cells as the EC(50) values obtained are greater than 50 microg/mL when tested under optimal culture condition. Moreover, the aqueous extract may form mutagenic compound(s) upon the metabolisation by liver enzymes.
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