In vitro evaluation of human liver cancer cells and the potential cytotoxicity of Tecoma stans (Bignoniaceae) and Brickellia cavanillesi (Asteraceae) both single and in combination

Jinqiu Zhu, René Viñas, Ernest E. Smith

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Medicinal herbs are steadily increasing in complementary use for chronic and alterative therapies. The health risks associated with herbal supplements have therefore been identified as a top research priority. Tecoma stans (Tronadora), a Bignoniaceae plant, is a herbal drug traditionally consumed as tea in South America for the control of diabetes. It contains the alkaloids of tecomine and tecostanine which were shown as functional compounds responsible for hypoglycemic activity. However, the side effects of aqueous extracts of this herbal tea have not been reported. In this study, studies sought to evaluate the cytotoxicity of water extracts from T. stans in human hepatoblastoma (HepG2). Toxic effects of T. stans were concentration- and time-dependent in the presence and absence of fetal bovine serum (FBS). Cells were incubated for up to 72-h with varying concentrations of herbal extracts (60-100%), cytotoxicity was determined spectrophotometrically by MTT and reported in terms of % cell viability. For IC50 assay (24 h exposure), cytotoxicity was found at concentration of 60-100%. Evaluation of the effects of T. stans and Brickellia cavanillesi (Asteraceae) in combination revealed that extracts of both herbal extracts' nontoxic levels of T. stans significantly reduced cell viability in a time-dependent manner. Further studies are needed regarding the identification, toxicity, and molecular mechanism of action of active compounds, as well as their cytotoxicity to other cell lines following exposure to both single and combined herbal extracts of these plants with anti-diabetic properties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)801-808
Number of pages8
JournalToxicological and Environmental Chemistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2008



  • Brickellia cavanillesi
  • Diabetes
  • Hepatotoxicity assay
  • Herbal medicine
  • Tecoma stans
  • hepG2 cells

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