Bacopasaponins with cytotoxic activity against human breast cancer cells in vitro

Arindam Bandyopadhyay, Saraswati Garai, Prajna Paramita Banerjee, Shelley Bhattacharya, Ansuman Chattopadhyay
Molecular Biology Reports 2021 April 10
Globally, breast cancer is a serious concern that exhibits a persistent rise in its incidence and related mortality even after significant advancement in the field of cancer research. To find an alternative cure for the disease from natural resources we selected Bacopa monniera, a perennial ethnomedicinal plant popularly used for boosting memory and mental health. We isolated four different types of dammarane saponins, namely bacopasaponins C-F (1-4) from the plant and evaluated their toxic effects on two different types of human breast cancer cell lines-a hormone-responsive MCF7 and a triple-negative MDA-MB-231. Interestingly, MTT assay revealed a dose-dependent toxic effect of all four types of bacopasaponins on both of these cell lines, 4 being the most effective with 48 h-inhibitory concentration (IC50 ) of 32.44 and 30 µM in MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 respectively. Further, 4 caused significant alterations in normal cytomorphology and induction of apoptosis in both of these cell lines after 48 h of treatment. No caspase-8 activity was detected in these cell lines when exposed to 4 for 2, 24, and 48 h; instead, Western blotting analysis confirmed involvement of either caspase-9 (MCF7) or both caspase-9 and caspase-3 (MDA-MB-231) in the process of apoptosis indicating the occurrence of intrinsic mode. Additionally, at comparable effective doses to cancer, bacopasaponins showed much less toxicity in normal human peripheral blood lymphocytes (≥ 85% cell survival). Overall, the findings project bacopasaponin F, a natural constituent of Bacopa monniera, as an efficient and safer alternative for breast cancer therapeutics.

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