Ilex paraguariensis St. Hilaire (Aquifoliaceae), a plant that grows naturally in northeast Argentina, Uruguay, southeast Brazil and east Paraguay, is processed industrially to produce “Yerba Mate.” Ilex brasiliensis (Sprengel) Loes grows in the same habitat and is often used as substitute or adulterant of I. paraguariensis.
In this study, an aqueous extract of I. brasiliensis exerted antiproliferative and apoptosis activity on a lymphoma cell line. Results suggest that nitric oxide could be involved in the effect of the extract. Were identified and quantified: 1) caffeoylquinic acid derivatives (chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, 3,4-dicaffeoylquinic acid, 3,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid and 4,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid; 2) flavonoids such as rutin, quercetin, kaempferol and methylxanthines were not detected. Chlorogenic acid proved to be one of the compounds associated to this activity. These results lead to the possibility of the development of a new “Yerba Mate” and/or phytomedical product, with antiproliferative activity but without central nervous system stimulant activity.