Antitumor activity of Bulgarian herb Tribulus terrestris L. on human breast cancer cells

S. ANGELOVA, Z. GOSPODINOVA, M. KRASTEVA, G. ANTOV, V. LOZANOV, T. MARKOV, S. BOZHANOV, E. GEORGIEVA and V. MITEV

ABSTRACT

Medicinal plants have been intensively studied as a source of antitumor compounds. Due to the beneficial climate conditions Bulgarian herbs have high pharmacological potential. Currently, the antitumor effect of the Bulgarian medicinal plant Tribulus terrestris L. on human cancer cell lines is not studied. The main active compounds of the plant are the steroid saponins. The present study aims to analyze the effect on cell viability and apoptotic activity of total extract and saponin fraction of Bulgarian Tribulus terrestris L. on human breast cancer (MCF7) and normal (MCF10A) cell lines. Antitumor effect was established by МТТ cell viability assay and assessment of apoptotic potential was done through analysis of genomic integrity (DNA fragmentation assay) and analysis of morphological cell changes (Fluorescence microscopy). The results showed that total extract of the herb has a marked dose-dependent inhibitory effect on viability of MCF7 cells (half maximal inhibitory concentration is 15 μg/ml). Cell viability of MCF10A was moderately decreased without visible dose-dependent effect. The saponin fraction has increased inhibitory effect on breast cancer cells compared to total extract. Morphological changes and DNA fragmentation were observed as markers for early and late apoptosis predominantly in tumor cells after treatment. Apoptotic processes were intensified with the increase of treatment duration. The obtained results are the first showing selective antitumor activity of Bulgarian Tribulus terrestris L. on human cancer cells in vitro. Apoptotic processes are involved in the antitumor mechanisms induced by the herb. This results give directions for future investigations concerning detailed assessment of its pharmacological potential.

Key words: Tribulus terrestris L., saponins, breast cancer cell line, antitumor activity, apoptosis

Volume 2, Number 1 (2013) pp. 25-32   [ Full Text (PDF) ]