Cytotoxic activity of the proteins extracted from the leaves of Gynura procumbens


Many of the currently available drugs are plant-based, and plant peptides and proteins have turned out to be a critical source of biological compounds that exhibited bioactivities which can be exploited as drugs. They, plant-based products including proteins and small molecular compounds, have been suggested as the favorable drugs for cancer treatment in view of the many adverse effects exerted by current cancer treatments, namely chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Amongst the activities being discovered were the anti-tumor activity of peptides extracted from

Hypericum perforatum,

Chelidonium majus L.,

Inula helenium L.,

Equiseteum arvense L.,

Inonotus obliquus;

anti-HIV property of macrocyclic peptide extracted from Palicourea condensate,

anti-microbial activity of thaumatin-like proteins extracted from malting barley etc.,

In the current study authors have selected Gynura procumbens (Lour.) Merr. It is a well-known traditional herb in South East Asia. The plant belongs to the Asteraceae Family. This plant is about 10–25 cm high and it is presented with succulent, elliptic and glossy purplish leaves. The leaves of G. procumbens have been served as food for decades in Malaysia, where it is generally consumed raw as salad.


The plant is widely used to treat inflammation, kidney discomfort, high cholesterol level, diabetic, cancer and high blood pressure. Indeed, the small molecular weight compounds extracted from G. procumbens have been reported to display anti-cancer, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-hyperglycemic and anti-hyperlipidemic activities. The authors of this work have detected the presence of valuable plant defense proteins, such as peroxidase, thaumatin-like proteins and miraculin from the leaf of G. procumbens. However, the effects of protein extract on cancers have never been determined.

Therefore, they aimed to analyze the cytotoxic activity of the proteins extracted from the leaves of G. procumbens using lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) cytotoxicity assay and thereafter to determine the route of cytotoxicity mechanism through the expression of proliferation and invasion markers in the treated MDA-MB-231 cells using semi-quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Furthermore, active proteins were identified using mass spectrometric analysis.

Findings highlight the anti-cancer property and authors believe it can be a potential chemotherapeutic agent for breast cancer treatment.

Authors hope that the data obtained will be useful for the future intervention of protein-based drug for cancer therapy.

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