The Apoptotic Properties of Leaf Extracts of Simarouba glauca against Human Leukemic Cancer Cells

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research, Trivandrum, Kerala, India.

2 Regional Cancer Centre, Trivandrum, Kerala, India.

3 Department of Dentistry, Oral Health Institute, Hamad Medical corporation, Doha, Qatar.

4 College of Dental Medicine, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar.


Background and objective: Simarouba glauca is a plant belonging to the family of Simaroubaceae. It is a potent source of secondary metabolites. The aim of this study was to evaluate the apoptotic properties of leaf extracts of Simarouba glauca against human leukemic cancer cells. Materials and Methods: Cytotoxicity of Simarouba glauca was assessed in the leaf extract of petroleum ether against leukemic cells by MTT assay. To detect the apoptotic features, fluorescence microscopy analysis was done with dual acridine orange/ethidium bromide fluorescent staining and Hoechst staining. To determine the externalization of phosphatidylserine, annexin v staining was done. Mitochondrial or death receptor activation was confirmed by caspase 3 analysis by flow cytometry. Results: This study revealed that Simarouba glauca was able to treat leukemia. Among the four extracts, petroleum ether extract showed a higher order of in vitro anticancer activity. The petroleum ether extract strongly inhibited the proliferation of K562 cell lines with IC50 values of 186 µg/ml. Dual acridine orange/ethidium bromide fluorescent staining and Hoechst staining revealed the characteristic features of apoptosis. Annexin V confirmed early and late stage apoptosis. Caspase-3 analysis revealed that cell death was due to mitochondrial or death receptor activation in mitochondrial pathway. Conclusion: These findings suggested that Simarouba glauca leaf extracts inhibited leukemic cells in a time- and dose-dependent manner either through mitochondrial or death receptor activation. The leaf extracts of Simarouba glauca was found to be nontoxic to lymphocytes. It can be concluded that Simarouba glauca is an important source of phytochemicals posing efficacy against leukemic cancer cells.


Main Subjects

Volume 22, Issue 4
April 2021
Pages 1305-1312
  • Receive Date: 24 February 2021
  • Revise Date: 25 March 2021
  • Accept Date: 24 April 2021
  • First Publish Date: 24 April 2021