Ovarian cancer ranks amongst the deadliest cancers in the gynaecological category of cancers. This research work aims to evaluate in vitro anti-ovarian cancer activities and identify phytochemical constituents of a rarely explored plant species—Rutidea parviflora
DC. The aqueous and organic extracts of the plant were evaluated for cytotoxicity using sulforhodamine B assay in four ovarian cancer cell lines and an immortalized human ovarian epithelial (HOE) cell line. The bioactive compounds were isolated and characterized by gas/liquid chromatography mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Caspase 3/7 activity assay, western blotting and flow cytometry were carried out to assess apoptotic effects of active compounds. The extracts/fractions of R. parviflora
showed promising anti-ovarian cancer activities in ovarian cancer cell lines. A principal cytotoxic alkaloid was identified as palmatine whose IC50
was determined as 5.5–7.9 µM. Palmatine was relatively selective towards cancer cells as it was less cytotoxic toward HOE cells, also demonstrating interestingly absence of cross-resistance in cisplatin-resistant A2780 cells. Palmatine further induced apoptosis by increasing caspase 3/7 activity, poly-ADP-ribose polymerase cleavage, and annexin V and propidium iodide staining in OVCAR-4 cancer cells. Our studies warranted further investigation of palmatine and R. parviflora
extracts in preclinical models of ovarian cancer.
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