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Antioxidant activity and ultrastructural changes in gastric cancer cell lines induced by Northeastern Thai edible folk plant extracts

Praphaporn Stewart1, Patcharee Boonsiri2, Songchan Puthong3 and Panadda Rojpibulstit4*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Anatomy and Department of Preclinical Science, Faculty of Medicine, Thammasat University, Pathumthani, Thailand

2 Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen, Thailand

3 Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic engineering, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

4 Division of Biochemistry, Department of Preclinical Science, Faculty of Medicine, Thammasat University, Pathumthani, Thailand

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013, 13:60  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-60

Published: 13 March 2013



Phytochemical products have a critical role in the drug discovery process. This promising possibility, however, necessitates the need to confirm their scientific verification before use. Hence, this study aims to evaluate (1) the antioxidant activity, (2) cytotoxicity potential, and (3) the effect on ultrastructural alteration in gastric cancer cell lines through exposure to fractions of three local Northeastern Thai edible plants.


Plants, Syzygium gratum, Justicia gangetica and Limnocharis flava were extracted with ethyl acetate, and each crude extract analysed for their total phenolics content by Folin-Ciocalteu method. Their antioxidant activity was assessed using the ABTS system. The extracts were then assayed for cytotoxicity on two gastric cancer cell lines Kato-III and NUGC-4, and compared with Hs27 fibroblasts as a control using the MTT assay. The cell viability (%), IC50 values, as well as the ultrastructural alterations were evaluated after treatment with one way analysis of variance (ANOVA).


The total phenolic values of the ethyl acetate extracts were well correlated with the antioxidant capacity, with extracted product of S. gratum displaying the highest level of antioxidant activity (a 10-fold greater response) over J. gangetica and L. flava respectively. Exposure of S. gratum and J. gangetica extracts to normal cell lines (Hs27) resulted in marginal cytotoxicity effects. However, through a dose-dependent assay S. gratum and J. gangetica extracts produced cytotoxicological effects in just over 75 percent of Kato-III and NUGC-4 cell lines. In addition, apoptotic characteristic was shown under TEM in both cancer cell lines with these two extracts, whereas characteristics of autophagy was found in cell lines after post exposure to extracts from L. flava.


From these three plants, S. gratum had the highest contents of phenolic compounds and antioxidant capacity. All of them found to contain compound(s) with cytotoxicity in vitro on cancer cells but not on normal cell lines as resolved in tissue culture and ultrastructural analysis. This is the first report to show the effect on cellular alteration as apoptosis of an ethyl acetate extract of S. gratum and J. gangetica. Further studies are now focused on individual isolates and their function, prioritizing on S. gratum and J. gangetica for the development of novel therapeutics and combatants against cancer.

Gastric cancer; Ultrastructure; Cell cytotoxicity; TEM