3 Biotech

, 8:371 | Cite as

Chemopreventive and anti-breast cancer activity of compounds isolated from leaves of Abrus precatorius L.

  • Mohammed Shafi Sofi
  • M. K. SateeshEmail author
  • Mohsin Bashir
  • Mohd Ashraf Ganie
  • Shabnum Nabi
Original Article


The present study focuses on isolation and evaluation of the anti-cancer activity of compounds from the leaves of Abrus precatorius. The bioassay-directed strategy was adopted using chromatographic, gas chromatographic–mass spectrum analysis, nuclear magnetic resonance and X-ray crystallography techniques for purification and characterization of active cytotoxic compounds. Further, MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell lines and 7,12-dimethylbenz (a) anthracene (DMBA) induced virgin female Sprague Dawley (SD) rats were used for in vitro and in vivo cytotoxicity evaluation. Stigmasterol hemihydrate and 9,12-Octadecadienoic acid (Z,Z)-2-hydroxy-1-(hydroxymethyl)ethyl ester or (β-monolinolein) were the two main cytotoxic constituents of leaf extract of A. precatorius, with an IC50 value of 74.2 and 13.2 µg/ml, respectively, in MDA-MB-231 cells. Additionally, the treatment with the stigmasterol and β-monolinolein as a combinatorial drug therapy in DMBA-induced female SD rats led to recovery of body weight, decreased tumor weight and volume, without any toxic side effects. Immunohistochemical examination showed extensive cell death and low proliferation in the treated tumor tissues that was confirmed by results from H and E staining, TUNEL assay and Ki-67 index as compared to control animal group. The reversion of glycoprotein, lysosomal and tumor marker enzyme levels back to near-normal levels after treatment with the plant compounds clearly demonstrated the reduction of tumor burden in these animals. This is the first report on isolation and characterization of the two active cytotoxic components from leaves of A. precatorius. Additionally, the profound cytotoxic and tumor-suppressive effect of these two compounds as a combinatorial therapy provide an alternative option for breast cancer treatment.


Mammary carcinoma Sprague Dawley rats 7,12-Dimethylbenz(a)anthracene Abrus precatorius 



The authors are grateful to the Department of Microbiology and Biotechnology, Bangalore University, Bangalore, Karnataka, India for support and facilities to carry out our research. Mohammad Shafi Sofi conveys sincere thanks to UGC, New Delhi for providing UGC-BSR Meritorious Fellowship (no. F.7-322/2011-BSR).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

No conflict of interest was declared.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mohammed Shafi Sofi
    • 1
  • M. K. Sateesh
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mohsin Bashir
    • 2
  • Mohd Ashraf Ganie
    • 3
  • Shabnum Nabi
    • 4
  1. 1.Molecular Diagnostics and Nanobiotechnology Laboratories, Department of Microbiology and BiotechnologyBangalore UniversityBangaloreIndia
  2. 2.Molecular Reproduction and Developmental Genetics LaboratoryIndian Institute of ScienceBangaloreIndia
  3. 3.Department of EndocrinologySheri-Kashmir Institute of Medical SciencesSrinagarIndia
  4. 4.Interdisciplinary Brain Research Centre, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical CollegeAligarh Muslim UniversityAligarhIndia

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