Open Access Research article

Histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitory and antiproliferative activities of phenolic-rich extracts derived from the rhizome of Hydnophytum formicarum Jack.: sinapinic acid acts as HDAC inhibitor

Thanaset Senawong1*, Suwatchai Misuna1, Somprasong Khaopha1, Suporn Nuchadomrong1, Prasan Sawatsitang1, Chanokbhorn Phaosiri2, Arpa Surapaitoon3 and Banchob Sripa3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen 40002, Thailand

2 Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen 40002, Thailand

3 Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen 40002, Thailand

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013, 13:232  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-232

Published: 22 September 2013



The rhizome of Hydnophytum formicarum Jack., a medicinal plant known in Thai as Hua-Roi-Roo, has been used in Thai traditional herbal medicine for treatment of cancer. We assessed the ability of its ethanolic and phenolic-rich extracts and its major phenolic compound, sinapinic acid, possessing histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitory activity to inhibit proliferation of 5 human cancer cell lines.


HeLa cells were used to study HDAC inhibitory activity of the extracts, sinapinic acid, and a well-known HDAC inhibitor sodium butyrate. Five human cancer cell lines and one non-cancer cell line were used to study antiproliferative activities of the plant extracts, sinapinic acid and sodium butyrate, comparatively.


Results indicated that ethanolic and phenolic-rich extracts of H. formicarum Jack. rhizome possessed both antiproliferative activity and HDAC inhibitory activity in HeLa cells. Sinapinic acid, despite its lower HDAC inhibitory activity than the well-known HDAC inhibitor sodium butyrate, inhibited the growth of HeLa and HT29 cells more effectively than sodium butyrate. However, sinapinic acid inhibited the growth of HCT116 and Jurkat cells less effectively than sodium butyrate. The non-cancer cell line (Vero cells) and breast cancer cell line (MCF-7 cells) appeared to be resistant to both sinapinic acid and sodium butyrate. The growth inhibitory effects of the ethanolic and phenolic-rich extracts and sinapinic acid in HeLa cells were mediated by induction of apoptosis.


The results of this study support the efficacy of H. formicarum Jack. rhizome ethanolic and phenolic-rich extracts for the treatment of cervical cancer, colon cancer, and T- cell leukemia in an alternative medicine. Further studies of other active ingredients from this plant are needed.

Hydnophytum formicarum Jack; HDAC inhibitors; Anticancer activity; Sinapinic acid