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Cytotoxicity of Elaoephorbia drupifera and other Cameroonian medicinal plants against drug sensitive and multidrug resistant cancer cells

Victor Kuete12, Igor K Voukeng2, Roger Tsobou3, Armelle T Mbaveng2, Benjamin Wiench1, Veronique P Beng4 and Thomas Efferth1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pharmaceutical Biology, Institute of Pharmacy and Biochemistry, University of Mainz, Staudinger Weg 5, Mainz 55128, Germany

2 Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science, University of Dschang, Dschang, Cameroon

3 Department of Plant Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Dschang, Dschang, Cameroon

4 Department of Organic Biochemistry, Faculty of Science, University of Yaoundé I, Yaoundé, Cameroon

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013, 13:250  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-250

Published: 2 October 2013



Multidrug resistance (MDR) is a major hurdle for cancer treatment worldwide and accounts for chemotherapy failure in over 90% of patients with metastatic cancer. Evidence of the cytotoxicity of Cameroonian plants against cancer cell lines including MDR phenotypes is been intensively and progressively provided. The present work was therefore designed to evaluate the cytotoxicity of the methanol extracts of twenty-two Cameroonian medicinal plants against sensitive and MDR cancer cell lines.


The methanol maceration was used to obtain the crude plant extracts whilst the cytotoxicity of the studied extracts was determined using a resazurin reduction assay.


A preliminary assay on leukemia CCRF-CEM cells at 40 μg/mL shows that six of the twenty plant extract were able to enhance less than 50% of the growth proliferation of CCRF-CEM cells. These include Crinum zeylanicum (32.22%), Entada abyssinica (34.67%), Elaoephorbia drupifera (35.05%), Dioscorea bulbifera (45.88%), Eremomastax speciosa (46.07%) and Polistigma thonningii (45.11%). Among these six plants, E. drupifera showed the best activity with IC50 values below or around 30 μg/mL against the nine tested cancer cell lines. The lowest IC50 value of 8.40 μg/mL was recorded with the extract of E. drupifera against MDA-MB231 breast cancer cell line. The IC50 values below 10 μg/mL were recorded with the extracts of E. drupifera against MDA-MB231 breast cancer cells, C. zeylanicum against HCT116 p53+/+ and HCT116p53-/- colon cancer cells and E. abyssinica against HCT116 p53+/+ cells.


The results of the present study provide evidence of the cytotoxic potential of some Cameroonian medicinal plants and a baseline information for the potential use of Elaoephorbia drupifera in the treatment of sensitive and drug-resistant cancer cell lines.

Cameroon; Cytotoxicity; Elaoephorbia drupifera; Medicinal plants