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Evaluation of Therapeutic Potential of Selected Plant-Derived Homeopathic Medicines for their Action against Cervical Cancer.

BACKGROUND:  Plant-derived homeopathic medicines (HMs) are cheap and commercially available but are mechanistically less explored entities than conventional medicines.

PURPOSE:  The aim of our study was to evaluate the impact of selected plant-derived HMs derived from Berberis aquifolium (BA) , Berberis vulgaris (BV), Mentha piperita (MP), Curcuma longa (CL), Cinchona officinalis (CO), Thuja occidentalis (TO) and Hydrastis canadensis (HC) on cervical cancer (CaCx) cells in vitro .

METHODS:  We screened the mother tincture (MT) and 30C potencies of the above-mentioned HMs for anti-proliferative and cytotoxic activity on human papillomavirus (HPV)-negative (C33a) and HPV-positive CaCx cells (SiHa and HeLa) by MTT assay. Total phenolic content (TPC) and the free-radical scavenging activity of each HM was also determined using standard assays. Phytochemicals reportedly available in these HMs were examined for their potential inhibitory action on HPV16 E6 by in silico molecular docking.

RESULTS:  All tested MTs induced a differential dose-dependent cytotoxic response that varied with cell line. For C33a cells, the order of response was TO > CL > BA > BV > HC > MP > CO, whereas for SiHa and HeLa cells the order was HC > MP > TO > CO > BA > BV > CL and CL > BA > CO, respectively. 30C potencies of all HMs showed an inconsistent response. Further, anti-CaCx responses displayed by MTs did not follow the order of an HM's phenolic content or free radical scavenging activity. Analysis revealed anti-oxidant content of BA, BV and HC had the lowest contribution to their anti-CaCx activity. Using in silico modeling of molecular docking between the HPV16 E6 protein crystallographic structures (6SJA and 4XR8) and main phytochemical components of BV, BA, HC, CL and TO, their potential to inhibit the HPV16 E6 protein carcinogenic interactions was identified.

CONCLUSION:  The study has shown a comparative evaluation of the potential of several plant-derived MTs and HMs to affect CaCx cell line survival in vitro (through cytotoxicity and free radical scavenging) and their theoretical molecular targets in silico for the first time. Data demonstrated that MTs of BA and BV are likely to be the most potent HMs that strongly inhibited CaCx growth and have a strong anti-HPV phytochemical constitution.

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