Chemical Compositions and Anti-Proliferative Activity of the Aerial Parts and Rhizomes of Squirting Cucumber, Cucurbitaceae

Abstract
Background: Ecballium elaterium is one of the Cucurbitaceae plants distributed in many regions of the world. This unique species considered as a source of valuable herbal remedies such as anticancer, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial in traditional medicine. Objectives: In the current research, cytotoxic activity of different extracts of the aerial parts and rhizomes of E. elaterium was evaluated on cancerous and non-cancerous cells which have not been assessed up to now. Furthermore, chemical compositions of potent samples were determined by GC-MS analysis for the first time. Methods: The air-dried, powdered aerial parts and rhizome of the E. elaterium were Soxhlet-extracted, successively, with different solvents (n-hexane, dichloromethane, and methanol) and then the dried extracts subjected to cytotoxic assay. Subsequently, their anti-proliferative activity was assessed by a modified MTT assay. In this study, 4 cancerous cell lines were used, all of the cell lines were incubated in humid 37ºC, 5% CO2 and fed by RPMI and FBS. The cells were exposed to different extracts at different concentrations in 48 h. Their growth inhibition was defined as IC50 (µg.mL-1). For further investigations, potent extracts were subjected to VLC method for obtaining different fractions. Subsequently, the activity of all fractions was investigated and their phytochemical profiles were determined by preliminary phytochemical and GC-MS methods. Results: Our findings illustrated, among the extracts, n-hexane extract of the aerial parts and its 100% fraction showed potent growth inhibitory effects on MCF7 cell line with IC50 = 264.3 ± 5.2 and 351.2 ± 5.5 µg.mL-1, respectively. It is worth to mention that; potent samples act their inhibitory effect on cancerous with minimum effect on non-cancerous cells. Further chemical investigations indicated that steroids, hydrocarbons and oxygenated monoterpenes are responsible for showing anti-proliferative effects. Conclusions: Overall, the results were showed n-hexane extract and its 100% fraction for having potent ingredients inhibit the cancerous cells and had minimum toxicity on the normal cell line.
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