Open Access Open Badges Research article

Antioxidant and antiproliferative activities of Abrus precatorius leaf extracts - an in vitro study

Mir Z Gul1, Farhan Ahmad2, Anand K Kondapi2, Insaf A Qureshi2 and Irfan A Ghazi1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Plant Sciences, School of Life Sciences, University of Hyderabad, Prof. C. R. Rao Road, Gachibowli, Hyderabad 500 046, India

2 Department of Biotechnology, School of Life Sciences, University of Hyderabad, Prof. C. R. Rao Road, Gachibowli, Hyderabad, 500 046, India

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013, 13:53  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-53

Published: 2 March 2013



The use of traditional medicine at the primary health care level is widespread and plant-based treatments are being recommended for curing various diseases by traditional medical practitioners all over the world. The phytochemicals present in the fruits, vegetables and medicinal plants are getting attention day-by-day for their active role in the prevention of several human diseases. Abrus precatorius is a widely distributed tropical medicinal plant with several therapeutic properties. Therefore in the present study, A. precatorius leaf extracts were examined for their antioxidant and cytotoxic properties in vitro in order to discover resources for new lead structures or to improve the traditional medicine.


In this study, antioxidant and antiproliferative properties of the different leaf extracts (hexane, ethyl acetate, ethanol and water) from A. precatorius were investigated along with the quantification of the polyphenol and flavonoid contents. The ability of deactivating free radicals was extensively investigated with in vitro biochemical methods like DPPH, OH, NO, SO2- scavenging assays and inhibition capability of Fe(II)-induced lipid peroxidation. Furthermore, antiproliferative activities using different human cancer cell lines and primary cell line was carried out by MTT method.


Total phenolic content and total flavonoid content of the extracts were found in the range of 1.65 ± 0.22 to 25.48 ± 0.62 GAE mg/g dw and 6.20 ± 0.41 to 17.16 ± 1.04 QE mg/g dw respectively. The experimental results further revealed that A. precatorius extracts showed strong antiradical properties, capable to chelate Fe2+ and possess good inhibition ability of lipid peroxidation. In addition, as a first step towards the identification of phytoconstituents endowed with potent chemopreventive activities, we evaluated the inhibitory effects of A. precatorius extracts on the proliferation of four different human tumour cell lines such as human colon adenocarcinoma cells (Colo-205), human retinoblastoma cancer cells (Y79), human hepatocellular carcinoma cells (HepG2) and Leukemia cells (SupT1). Ethanol extract (APA) and ethyl acetate extract (APE) of A. precatorius had apparent capabilities of inhibiting the survival of tested human cancer cell lines. Moreover, it was observed that the A. precatorius extracts did not inhibit the growth of mice peritoneal macrophages, thus confirming that plants extracts are selective against the cancer cell lines.


This work provides a scientific support for the high antioxidant and antiproliferative activity of this plant and thus it may find potential applications in the treatment of the diseases caused by ROS. Further studies are needed to confirm in vivo anti-tumorgenicity and subsequent chemical characterization of the active molecule(s).