Anticancer activity of Turkish marine extracts: a purple sponge extract induces apoptosis with multitarget kinase inhibition activity


Marine natural products have drawn a great deal of attention as a vital source of new drugs for the last five decades. However, marine organisms in the seas surrounding Turkey (the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea) haven’t been yet extensively explored. In the present study, three marine organisms (Dysidea avara, Microcosmus sabatieri and Echinaster sepositus) were sampled from the Dardanelles (Turkish Straits System, Western Turkey) by scientific divers, transferred to the laboratory and then were extracted with 70% ethanol. The extracts were tested for their cytotoxic effect against K562, KMS-12PE, A549, and A375 cancer cell lines. The sponge extract elicited the most promising cytotoxic activity, thus it was further evaluated against H929, MCF-7, HeLa, and HCT116 cancer cells. Most of the designated cells showed a considerable sensitivity for the sponge extract particularly H929, K562, KMS-12PE and HeLa cells with IC50 less than 10 μg/mL. On the contrary, the other two extracts exhibited no cytotoxic activity on all cells at 100 μg/mL concentration. The sponge extract was tested for its capacity to induce apoptosis in cancer cells and to inhibit a panel of tyrosine kinases showing remarkable results. The outcome of this study represents a platform for discovery of new chemotherapeutic agents of marine natural origin.

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MCF7 cells were provided by the RIKEN BRC through the National Bio-Resource Project of the MEXT/AMED, Japan. We also would like to thank to K. E. BARIS, Umut DARYOL and İlker PAŞA for their strenuous support during the scientific dives and ecological surveys in situ.


We are grateful to the Screening Committee of Anticancer Drugs supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas, Scientific Support Programs for Cancer Research (No. 221S0001), from The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan (MEXT), for assistance with the evaluation of compounds. This work was supported by a Grant for Joint Research Project with Science Farm Ltd. The study was also supported in part by a Grant-in-Aid for Challenging Exploratory Research to M.O. (24659048). We are grateful for the support from Izmir Katip Celebi University grants commision (project number: 2019-ÖNAP-SUÜF-0002) 

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Correspondence to Mikako Fujita or Mustafa Alparslan or Mohamed O. Radwan.

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Ciftci, H.I., Can, M., Ellakwa, D.E. et al. Anticancer activity of Turkish marine extracts: a purple sponge extract induces apoptosis with multitarget kinase inhibition activity. Invest New Drugs 38, 1326–1333 (2020).

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  • Marine products
  • Cancer
  • Apoptosis
  • Tyrosine kinase inhibitors