Open Access Research article

Novel molecular, cytotoxical, and immunological study on promising and selective anticancer activity of Mung bean sprouts

Rand R Hafidh12, Ahmed S Abdulamir23*, Fatimah Abu Bakar2*, Farid Azizi Jalilian45, Faridah Abas6 and Zamberi Sekawi4

Author affiliations

1 Department of Microbiology, College of Medicine, Baghdad University, Baghdad, Iraq

2 Institute of Bioscience, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia

3 Department of Microbiology, College of Medicine, Al-Nahrain University, Baghdad, Iraq

4 Department of Medical Microbiology and Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia

5 Clinical Microbiology Research Center, Ilam University of Medical Sciences, Ilam, Iran

6 Department of Food Science, Faculty of Food Science and Technology and Institute of Bioscience, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia

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Citation and License

BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012, 12:208  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-208

Published: 5 November 2012



The anticancer and immunomodulatory activity of mung bean sprouts (MBS) and the underlying mechanisms against human cervical and hepatocarcinoma cancer cells were explored.


MBS cytotoxicity and MBS-induced anticancer cytokines, TNF-α and IFN-β from cancer cells, and immunological cytokines, IL-4, IFN-γ, and IL-10 from peripheral mononuclear cells (PMNC) were assessed by MTS and ELISA assays. Apoptotic cells were investigated by flow cytometry. The expression level of apoptotic genes (Bax, BCL-2, Capsases 7–9) and cell cycle regulatory genes (cyclin D, E, and A) and tumor suppressor proteins (p27, p21, and p53) was assessed by real-time qPCR in the cancer cells treated with extract IC50.


The cytotoxicity on normal human cells was significantly different from HeLa and HepG2 cells, 163.97 ± 5.73, 13.3 ± 0.89, and 14.04 ± 1.5 mg/ml, respectively. The selectivity index (SI) was 12.44 ± 0.83 for HeLa and 11.94 ± 1.2 for HepG2 cells. Increased levels of TNF-α and IFN-β were observed in the treated HeLa and HepG2 culture supernatants when compared with untreated cells. MBS extract was shown to be an immunopolarizing agent by inducing IFNγ and inhibiting IL-4 production by PBMC; this leads to triggering of CMI and cellular cytotoxicity. The extract induced apoptosis, in a dose and time dependent manner, in treated HeLa and HepG2, but not in untreated, cells (P < 0.05). The treatment significantly induced cell cycle arrest in G0/G1 in HeLa cells. The percentage of cells in G0/G1 phase of the treated HeLa cells increased from 62.87 ± 2.1%, in untreated cells, to 80.48 ± 2.97%. Interestingly, MBS IC50 induced the expression of apoptosis and tumor suppressor related genes in both HeLa and HepG2 cells. MBS extract succeeded in inducing cdk-inhibitors, p21, p53, and p27 in HeLa cells while it induced only p53 in HepG2 cells (P < 0.05). This is a clue for the cell type- specific interaction of the studied extract. These proteins inhibit the cyclin-cdk complexes apart from the presence of some other components that might stimulate some cyclins such as cyclin E, A, and D.


MBS extract was shown to be a potent anticancer agent granting new prospects of anticancer therapy using natural products.