Growth Inhibition and Apoptosis Induction of Essential Oils and Extracts of Nepeta cataria L. on Human Prostatic and Breast Cancer Cell Lines


Department of Pharmacognosy,School of Pharmacy; Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, IranE-mail:


Nepeta cataria L. has been used in traditional medicine of some countries. Here the cytotoxic and apoptogenic activity of methanol extracts, n-hexane, dichloromethane, ethyl acetate, n-butanol, and acqueous extracts and the essential oil obtained from the aerial parts of the plant were evaluated with PC3, DU-145 and MCF-7 cell lines. Cell viability, histograms of PI stained fragmented DNA in apoptotic cells and Western blot analysis of proteins involved in the cascade of apoptosis were compared in all samples. Thirty components were identified as volatile, representing 99.7% of essential oil composition after GC-MS analysis of the oil obtained from aerial parts of the N. cataria by hydro-distillation. The major oil components of the essential oil were nepetalactone stereoisomers. Comparing IC50 values showed estrogen receptor positive PC3 cells were more sensitive to the cytotoxic effects of N. cataria in comparison with low hormone-receptor presenting DU-145 cells. Among multiple extracts and essential oils of the plant, only the ethyl acetate extract could significantly decrease cell viability in PC3 cells, in a concentration dependent manner. Ethyl acetate extract of N. cataria treated cells showed a sub-G1 peak in PC3 cells in a concentration dependent manner that indicates the involvement of an apoptotic process in ethyl acetate extract-induced cell death. Western blotting analysis showed that in PC3 cells treated with ethyl acetate (48 h) caspase 3 and PARP were cleaved to active forms. Overall, the results suggest that further analytical elucidation of N. cataria in respect to finding new cytotoxic chemicals with anti-tumor activity is warranted.