In vitro evaluation of cytotoxic and apoptogenic properties of Sophora pachycarpa

Document Type : Research article


1 Medical Toxicology Research Centre, Mashhad, University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran.

2 Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacological Research Centre of Medicinal Plants, School of Medicine, Mashhad, University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

3 Department of Pharmacognosy, School of Pharmacy, Mashhad, University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

4 Department of Pharmacodynamics and Toxicology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Mashhad, University of Medical Science, Mashhad, Iran


Sophora pachycarpa Schrenk ex C.A.Mey. belongs to the family Fabaceae. Some species of the genus Sophora have shown to possess anti-proliferative and apoptosis-inducing activites in cancer cells. However, there is no available information addressing this effect in S. pachycarpa. Here, we investigated the cytotoxic effects of methanol extract and different fractions obtained from S. pachycarpa root on different cancer cell lines including A549, HeLa, HL-60, MCF-7, and PC3 cell lines and also leukocytes as non-malignant cells. Apoptotic cells were determined using PI staining of DNA fragmentation by flow cytometry (sub-G1 peak). The degree of DNA fragmentation was analyzed using agarose gel electrophoresis based on the formation of internucleosomal units.
S. pachycarpa inhibited the growth of malignant cells in a dose-dependent manner and the CH2Cl2 fraction showed the lowest IC50 values ranging from 30 to 50 μg/mL in various cancer cell lines. HeLa cells as the most sensitive cells were chosen for further mechanistic studies.
The sub-G1 peak in flow cytometry histogram of S. pachycarpa treated HeLa cells indicates apoptotic cell death in S. pachycarpa-induced toxicity.
In conclusion, S. pachycarpa exerts cytotoxic effects in different cancer cell lines in which apoptosis plays an important role. Thus, S. pachycarpa could be considered as a potential chemotherapeutic agent in cancer treatment.


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