Screening of Venezuelan Medicinal Plant Extracts for Cytostatic and Cytotoxic Activity Against Tumor Cell Lines


Correspondence to: Peter Taylor, Centro de Medicina Experimental, Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas, Apartado 20632, Caracas 1020-A, Venezuela.



There are estimated to be more than 20,000 species of plants in Venezuela, of which more than 1500 are used for medicinal purposes by indigenous and local communities. Only a relatively small proportion of these have been evaluated in terms of their potential as antitumor agents. In this study, we screened 308 extracts from 102 species for cytostatic and cytotoxic activity against a panel of six tumor cell lines using a 24-h sulphorhodamine B assay. Extracts from Clavija lancifolia, Hamelia patens, Piper san-vicentense, Physalis cordata, Jacaranda copaia, Heliotropium indicum, and Annona squamosa were the most cytotoxic, whereas other extracts from Calotropis gigantea, Hyptis dilatata, Chromolaena odorata, Siparuna guianensis, Jacaranda obtusifolia, Tapirira guianensis, Xylopia aromatica, Protium heptaphyllum, and Piper arboreum showed the greatest cytostatic activity. These results confirm previous reports on the cytotoxic activities of the abovementioned plants as well as prompting further studies on others such as C. lancifolia and H. dilatata that have not been so extensively studied. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.