Identification of compounds with cytotoxic activity from the leaf of the Nigerian medicinal plant, Anacardium occidentale L. (Anacardiaceae)
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KeywordsCancer; Lead compound; Nigerian medicinal plants; Drug discovery; Cytotoxicity
Permissions© 2017 Elsevier. Reproduced in accordance with the publisher's selfarchiving policy. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license.
Cancer is now the second-leading cause of mortality and morbidity, behind only heart disease, necessitating urgent development of (chemo)therapeutic interventions to stem the growing burden of cancer cases and cancer death. Plants represent a credible source of promising drug leads in this regard, with a long history of proven use in the indigenous treatment of cancer. This study therefore investigated Anacardium occidentale, one of the plants in a Nigerian Traditional Medicine formulation commonly used to manage cancerous diseases, for cytotoxic activity. Bioassay-guided fractionation, spectroscopy, Alamar blue fluorescence-based viability assay in cultured HeLa cells and microscopy were used. Four compounds: zoapatanolide A (1), agathisflavone (2), 1, 2-bis (2,6-dimethoxy-4-methoxybenzoyl) ethane (Anacardicin, 3) and methyl gallate (4) were isolated, with the most potent being zoapatanolide A with an IC50 value of 36.2 ± 9.8 μM in the viability assay. To gain an insight into the likely molecular basis of their observed cytotoxic effects, Autodock Vina binding free energies of each of the isolated compounds with seven molecular targets implicated in cancer development (MAPK8, MAPK10, MAP3K12, MAPK3, MAPK1, MAPK7 and VEGF), were calculated. Pearson correlation coefficients were obtained with experimentally-determined IC50 in the Alamar blue viability assay. While these compounds were not as potent as a standard anti-cancer compound, doxorubicin, the results provide reasonable evidence that the plant species contains compounds with cytotoxic activity. This study provides some evidence of why this plant is used ethnobotanically in anti-cancer herbal formulations and justifies investigating Nigerian medicinal plants highlighted in recent ethno-botanical surveys.