A Polyherbal Formulation Habb-e-Ustukhuddus Induces Apoptosis and Inhibits Cell Migration in Lung and Breast Cancer Cells without Any Toxicity in Mice

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Cancer Biology Laboratory, School of Life Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India.

2 Department of Moalajat, School of Unani Medical Education and Research, Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi, India.

3 Special Centre for Systems Medicine, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India.


Objective: A polyherbal medicine, Habb-e-Ustukhuddus (HU), is used for its anti-inflammatory properties. However, the anticancer and chemopreventive properties of HU were not known, and Therefore, investigated in  the  present study. Methods: Cancer cells were treated with 50-400 µg/ml HU and MTT, trypan blue, and clonogenic assays were performed. Propidium iodide (PI) staining, annexin V-FITC assay, and JC-1 staining were done for cell cycle progression, apoptosis, and mitochondrial membrane potential, respectively, using flow cytometry. Immunoblotting, cell migration and invasion assays were performed. Chemical characterization of HU was done through GC-MS and HPLC analyses. C57BL/6 mice were used to assess the in vivo toxicity of HU. Results: While evaluating the anticancer activity, the methanolic extract of HU (50-400 µg/ml) strongly inhibited the growth and survival (P<0.05-0.001) of lung and breast cancer cells and increased the cell population in the sub-G1 phase of the cell cycle. HU caused apoptotic death of cancer cells (P<0.05-0.001), which was associated with the depolarization of mitochondrial membrane potential (Δψ) (P<0.001) and an increase in Bax to Bcl-2 protein ratio. Further, HU inhibited the invasion and migration of cancer cells, which was accompanied by an increase in the epithelial marker, E-cadherin, and a decrease in the mesenchymal marker, vimentin. The HU characterization by GC-MS and HPLC analyses showed the abundance of bioactive compounds including flavonoids and alkaloids. In the chemopreventive study, the oral administration of methanolic extract of the formulation HU (50 and 100 mg/kg body weight) to mice did not cause any toxicity and significantly increased the specific activities of hepatic drug metabolizing phase I and phase II enzymes, which suggested for its detoxification potential of xenobiotic compounds. Conclusion: Together, these results demonstrated the anticancer potential HU, without any apparent toxicity in mice, and thus HU could be further explored for its clinical utility in cancer control.


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