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Open Access Open Badges Research article

PASS-predicted Vitex negundo activity: antioxidant and antiproliferative properties on human hepatoma cells-an in vitro study

Farkaad A Kadir1, Normadiah M Kassim1*, Mahmood A Abdulla2 and Wageeh A Yehye3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, 50603, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

2 Department of Biomedical Science, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, 50603, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

3 Nanotechnology & Catalysis Research Centre, (NANOCAT), University of Malaya, Block 3A, Institute of Postgraduate Studies Building, 50603, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013, 13:343  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-343

Published: 4 December 2013



Hepatocellular carcinoma is a common type of tumour worldwide with a high mortality rate and with low response to current cytotoxic and chemotherapeutic drugs. The prediction of activity spectra for the substances (PASS) software, which predicted that more than 300 pharmacological effects, biological and biochemical mechanisms based on the structural formula of the substance was efficiently used in this study to reveal new multitalented actions for Vitex negundo (VN) constituents.


Experimental studies based on antioxidant and antiproliferative assays verified the predictions obtained by the PASS-predicted design strategy. Antioxidant activity of VN extract was studied using 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) and Ferric reducing or antioxidant power (FRAP) assays. The antiproliferative activity of VN extract against WRL68 and HepG2 was investigated based on methylthiazol tetrazolium (MTT) spectrophotometric assay.


VN extract showed 79.43% inhibition of DPPH stable radical with IC50 13.31 ± 0.18 μg/ml. This inhibition was too closed to butylated hydroxyl toluene (BHT) 82.53% (IC5013.8 ± 0.14) and gallic acid 89.51% (IC50 3.1 ± 0.08). VN extract exhibited the strongest free radical scavenging power compared with two commercial antioxidants, BHT and ascorbic acid. VN increased the activities of antioxidant enzymes in normal embryonic liver cells (WRL68) including, superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GPX) compared with to H2O2 group. The ethanolic extract of VN showed cytotoxicity to HepG2 cells in a dose and time-dependent manner with IC50 66.46 μg/ml, 57.36 μg/ml and 65.12 μg/ml at 24, 48, and 72-hours incubation respectively, with no sensitivity in WRL68 cells. This was associated with significant elevation in lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release in HepG2 cells. In addition, the activation of caspase-3 enzyme suggesting that the observed cytotoxicity was mediated via an intrinsic apoptosis pathway.


PASS-predicted plant activity could efficiently help in selecting a promising pharmaceutical leads with high accuracy and required antioxidant and antiproliferative properties. This is the first report on PASS-predicted VN activity.

Antioxidant; Caspase 3; HepG2; LDH; MTT; PASS; Vitex negundo; WRL68