Antiproliferative effect of Momordica cochinchinensis seeds on human lung cancer cells and isolation of the major constituents


Gac, Momordica cochinchinensis (Lour.) Spreng., Cucurbitaceae, is an indigenous South Asian edible fruit and has been used therapeutically in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Previous studies have shown that M. cochinchinensis seed (Momordicae Semen) has various pharmaceutical properties such as antioxidant and anti-ulcer effects as well as contains secondary metabolites with potential anticancer activities such as triterpenoids and saponins. However, its biological activities in cancer have not yet been investigated. In this study, we found that its ethanol extract reduced cell proliferation in four human lung cancer cell lines, A549, H1264, H1299 and Calu-6. Phytochemical investigation of the ethanol extract was carried out, and resulted in isolation of two major saponins, which were identified as gypsogenin 3-O-β-d-galactopyranosyl(1 → 2)-[α-l-rhamnopyranosyl(1 → 3)]-β-d-glucuronopyranoside (1) and quillaic acid 3-O-β-d-galactopyranosyl(1 → 2)-[α-l-rhamnopyranosyl(1 → 3)]-β-d-glucuronopyranoside (2). Treatment with these isolated compounds (1 and 2) decreased cell proliferation in all human lung cancer cell lines tested. In addition, the compounds attenuated primary lung endothelial cell proliferation. Taken together, these findings suggest M. cochinchinensis seeds have antiproliferative activity on human lung cancer cells as well as angiostatic effect on lung endothelial cells.


  1. Arai, M., Hayashi, A., Sobou, M., Ishida, S., Kawachi, T., Kotoku, N., Kobayashi, M., 2011. Anti-angiogenic effect of triterpenoidal saponins from Polygala senega. J. Nat. Med. 65, 149–156.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. De Shan, M., Hu, L.H., Chen, Z.L., 2001. New multiflorence triterpenoids ester from Momordica cochinchinensis spring. Nat. Prod. Lett. 15, 139–145.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Fitzmaurice, C., Dicker, D., Pain, A., Hamavid, H., Moradi-Lakeh, M., Maclntyre, M.F., Allen, C., Hansen, G., Woodbrook, R., Wolfe, C., Hamadeh, R.R., 2015. The global burden of cancer 2013. JAMA Oncol. 1, 505–527.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Folkman, J., 2007. Angiogenesis: an organizing principle for drug discovery? Nat. Rev. Drug Discov. 6, 273–286.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Gao, X.M., 2005. Chinese Material Medica.Traditional Chinese. Materia MedicaPress, Beijing.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Guan, Y.Y., Liu, H.J., Luan, X., Xu, J.R., Lu, Ci, Liu, Y.R., Gao, Y.G., Zhao, M., Chen, H.Z., Fang, C., 2015. Raddeanin A, a triterpenoid saponin isolated from Anemone rad-deana, suppresses the angiogenesis and growth of human colorectal tumor by inhibiting VEGFR2 signaling. Phytomedicine 22, 103–110.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Hanahan, D., Weinberg, R.A., 2011. Hallmarks of cancer: the next generation. Cell 144, 646–674.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  8. Iwamoto, M., Okabe, H., Yamauchi, T., Tanaka, M., Rokutani, Y., Hara, S., Mihashi, It, Higuchi, R., 1985. Studies on the constituents of Momoridca cochinchinensis Spreng. I. Isolation and characterization of the seed saponins, Momordica saponins I and II. Chem. Pharm. Bull. 33, 464–478.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Jemal, A., Siegel, R., Ward, E., Hao, Y., Xu, J., Murray, T., Thun, M.J., 2008. Cancer statistics, 2008. CA Cancer J. Clin. 58, 71–96.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Jung, It, Chin, Y.W., Yoon, K.D., Chae, H.S., Kim, C.Y., Yoo, H., Kim, J., 2013. Anti-inflammatory properties of a triterpenoidal glycoside from Momordica cochinchinensis in LPS-stimulated macrophages. Immunopharmacol. Immunotoxicol. 35, 126–132.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Jung, K., Lee, D., Yu, J.S., Namgung, H., Kang, K.S., Kim, K.H., 2016. Protective effect and mechanism of action of saponins isolated from the seeds of gac (Momordica cochinchinensis Spreng.) against cisplatin-induced damage in LLC-PK1 kidney cells. Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 26, 1466–1470.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Kan, L.D., Hu, Q., Chao, Z.M., Song, X., Cao, X.L., 2006. Chemical constituents of unsaponiflable matter from seed oil of Momordica cochinchinensis. Zhongguo Zhong Yao ZaZhi 31, 1441–1444.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Kang, J.M., Kim, N., Kim, B., Kim, J.H., Lee, B.Y., Park, J.H., Lee, M.K., Lee, H.S., Kim, J.S., Jung, H.C., Song, I.S., 2010. Enhancement of gastric ulcer healing and angiogenesis by Cochinchina Momordica seed extract in rats. J. Korean Med. Sci. 25, 875–881.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  14. Ko, H.R., Nguyen, T.L., Kim, C.K., Park, Y., Lee, K.H., Ahn, J.Y., 2015. P42 Ebpl functions as a tumor suppressor in non-small cell lung cancer. BMB Rep. 48, 159–165.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  15. Park, J.H., Noh, T.H., Wang, H., Kim, N.D., Jung, J.H., 2015. Viriditoxin induces G2/M cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in A549 human lung cancer cells. Nat. Prod. Sci. 21, 282–288.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Perry, L.M., 1980. Medicinal Plants of East and Southeast Asia, Attributed Properties and Uses. The MIT Press, Cambridge.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Shin, J., Lee, J., Baek, K.H., 2014. A single extra copy of Dscrl improves survival of mice developing spontaneous lung tumors through suppression of tumor angiogenesis. Cancer Lett. 342, 70–81.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. Tran, X.T., Parks, S.E., Roach, P.D., Golding, J.B., Nguyen, M.H., 2016. Effects of maturity on physicochemical properties of Gac fruit (Momordica cochinchinensis Spreng.). Food Sci. Nutr. 4, 305–312.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. Tsoi, A.Y.K., Ng, T.B., Fong, W.P., 2005. Antioxidative effect of a chymotrypsin inhibitor from Momordica cochinchinensis (Cucurbitaceae) seeds in a primary rat hepatocyte culture. J. Pept. Sci. 11, 665–668.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. Vuong, L.T., 2000. Underutilized β-carotene-rich crops of Vietnam. Food Nutr. Bull. 21, 173–181.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Xiao, C., Rajput, Z.I., Liu, D., Hu, S., 2007. Clin. Vaccine Immunol. 14, 1634–1639.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Kwan-Hyuck Baek or Ki Hyun Kim.

Additional information

Authors’ contribution

JSY, HSR, and SL contributed the experiments. JSY, KHB, and KHK prepared and wrote the manuscript. KJ, KHB, and KHK contributed analysis and discussion. KHB and KHK contributed the design of the project and reviewed the manuscript. All the authors have read the final manuscript and approved the submission.

Rights and permissions

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Yu, J.S., Roh, H., Lee, S. et al. Antiproliferative effect of Momordica cochinchinensis seeds on human lung cancer cells and isolation of the major constituents. Rev. Bras. Farmacogn. 27, 329–333 (2017).

Download citation


  • Gac
  • Saponin
  • Lung cancer cells
  • Endothelial cells