Agriculturae Conspectus Scientificus, Vol 84, No 1 (2019)

Review of the Anticancer and Cytotoxic Activity of some Species from Genus Euphorbia


Pages: 1-5


Euphorbiaceae is a widely spread family. To genus Euphorbia, from that family, belongs more than 2000 species. The plants of this genus have been used for a long time in traditional medicine. Their main active components: alkanes, triterpenes, phytosterols, tannins, polyphenols and flavanoids are supposed to be responsible for different types of activity. Euphorbia formosana Hayata is a medicinal plant used to treat rheumatism, liver cirrhosis, herpes zoster and it is used as tumor suppressor. Euphorbia tirucalli L. have been used to obtain methanolic extracts. Their cytotoxic activity have been examined against many different types of cancer cells, such as colon cancer cell line, liver cancer cell line, ovarian cancer cell line and prostate cancer cell line. Leukemic cell lines, THP-1 and HL-60, were inhibited after 24 h of treatment with 400 μg/mL E. formosana. In vitro anticancer activity assays of E. formosana suggest potent anticancer effects that cause both cell cycle arrest and apoptosis of leukemic cancer cells. The ethanolic extract of Euphorbia helioscopia L. inhibited the growth of only three cancer cell lines, Hep-2 (27%), T-47D (7%) and PC-5 (11%). Cell viability assays were conducted on the pancreatic cancer primary tumor cell line to assess the relative toxicity of the E. tirucalli extracts. The toxicity of both aqueous and methanolic extracts was found to be dose dependent, with cell viability decreasing with increasing extract concentration. Both extracts demonstrated similar activity at 50 μg/mL with a viability of 50%, while only the methanol extract exerted a significant decrease in cell viability at concentration of 25 μg/mL. The pronounced cytotoxic activity of these few species from the genus Euphorbia, suggests that it could be very interesting to investigate more deeply about their potent anticancer ability. So, the aim of this study was to make a review of the anticancer activity of some of the Euphorbia species that were examined experimentally, using different in vitro or in vivo assays.


anticancer effects; cytotoxic effects; Euphorbia spp.; medicinal plants

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