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Medicinal plant extracts interfere in gastric cancer stem cells fluorescence-based assays.

Fluorescence is used in various biological assays due to its high sensitivity, versatility, and precision. In recent years, studies using medicinal plant extracts have increased. However, fluorescence-based assays could be biased by plant metabolites autofluorescence. To address this issue, this study investigated the interference caused by methanolic extracts and chloroform fractions of three medicinal plants in three fluorescence-based assays on gastric cancer stem cells(CSC): resazurin reduction, confocal microscopy, and flow cytometry. CSC were isolated based on CD44 surface marker, incubated with methanolic extracts and chloroform fractions of Buddleja incana, Dracontium spruceanum, Piper aduncum . Resazurin assay evidenced that CSC exposed to extracts and fractions from the three plants showed significant differences in relative fluorescence units (RFU) levels (p < 0.001) compared to the unexposed groups after a 3-hour incubation. In addition, DMSO-treated CSC exposed to extracts and fractions had significantly lower fluorescence levels than living ones, but higher than extracts and fractions without cells. In confocal microscopy, cancer stem cells exposed to extracts and fractions of B. incana and P. aduncum were observed in the same emission spectra of the CSC markers. In flow cytometry, CSC exposed to extracts and fractions without any fluorescent dyes were detected in the double positive quadrants for CSC markers (CD44+/CD133 + ). Among the three plants , D. spruceanum exhibited the least interference. These results show that methanolic extracts and chloroform fractions contain autofluorescent metabolites that interfere with fluorescence-based assays. These results highlight the importance of a prior evaluation for possible fluorescence interference to avoid interpretation biases in fluorescence assays.

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