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Saponins from the rhizomes of Chamaecostus subsessilis and their cytotoxic activity against HL60 human promyelocytic leukemia cells

Article published in Journal of Pharmacy & Pharmacognosy Research 8(5): 466-474, 2020.
Image: Wikimedia

Ezequias Pessoa de Siqueira1, Ana Carolina Soares Braga1, Fernando Galligani2, Elaine Maria de Souza-Fagundes2, Betania Barros Cota1*

1Laboratory of Chemistry of Bioactive Natural Products, Rene Rachou Institute, Oswaldo Cruz Fundation, Belo Horizonte, 30.190-009, Brazil.2Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, 31270901, Brazil.*E-mail:


Context: Species of the Costaceae family have been traditionally used for the treatment of infections, tumors and inflammatory diseases. Chamaecostus subsessilis (Nees & Mart.) C. D. Specht & D.W. Stev. (Costaceae) is a native medicinal plant with distribution in the Cerrado forest ecosystem of Central Brazil. In our previous work, the antitumor potential of the chloroform fraction (CHCl3 Fr) from rhizomes ethanol extract (REEX) of C. subsessilis was determined against a series of tumor cell lines (HL60, Jurkat, MDA-MB231, MCF-7, HTC-116 and THP-1) using 3-(4, 5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2, 5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) colorimetric assay.

Aims: To isolate and identify the cytotoxic compounds present in CHCl3 Fr from REEX of C. subsessilis.

Methods: The bio-guided chromatographic fractionation of the CHCl3 Fr was performed by High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) and preparative Thin Layer Chromatography (prep-TLC). The cytotoxicity of the isolated compounds was evaluated against human promyelocytic leukemia cells (HL60) and human embryonic renal non-tumor cell lineage (HEK-293) by MTT assay.

Results: Dioscin and gracillin were identified as active compounds from CHCl3 Fr from REEX of C. subsessilis. They showed IC50 values of 5.3 µM and 14.0 µM, respectively, against HL60 cells, but they did not demonstrate selectivity compared to HEK-293 cells.

Conclusions: These results corroborate with the popular use of species of the Costaceae family as a source of antitumor agents. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that these saponins are isolated from this species.

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