CNAP | Universidad Mayor

13 enero 2024

Oxidative stress promotes cytotoxicity in human cancer cell lines exposed to Escallonia spp. extracts

Manuel Ahumada

Jara-Gutiérrez, C., Mercado, L., Paz-Araos, M., Howard, C., Parraga, M., Escobar, C., Mellado, M., Madrid, A., Montengro, I., Santana, P., Murgas, P., Jimenez-Jara, C., González-Olivares, L. G., Ahumada, M. & Villena, J. (2024). Oxidative stress promotes cytotoxicity in human cancer cell lines exposed to Escallonia spp. extracts. BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies, 24(1), 38.


Background: Standard cancer treatments show a lack of selectivity that has led to the search for new strategies against cancer. The selective elimination of cancer cells modulating the redox environment, known as “selective oxycution”, has emerged as a viable alternative. This research focuses on characterizing the unexplored Escallonia genus plant extracts and evaluating their potential effects on cancer’s redox balance, cytotoxicity, and activation of death pathways.

Methods: 36 plant extracts were obtained from 4 different species of the Escallonia genus (E. illinita C. Presl, E. rubra (Ruiz & Pav.) Pers., E. revoluta (Ruiz & Pav.) Pers., and E. pulverulenta (Ruiz & Pav.) Pers.), which were posteriorly analyzed by their phytoconstituents, antioxidant capacity, and GC-MS. Further, redox balance assays (antioxidant enzymes, oxidative damage, and transcription factors) and cytotoxic effects (SRB, ∆Ψmt, and caspases actives) of those plant extracts were analyzed on four cell lines (HEK-293T, MCF-7, HT-29, and PC-3).

Results: 36 plant extracts were obtained, and their phytoconstituents and antioxidant capacity were established. Further, only six extracts had EC50 values < 10 µg*mL− 1, indicating high toxicity against the tested cells. From those, two plant extracts were selective against different cancer cell lines: the hexane extract of E. pulverulenta´s stem was selective for HT-29, and the ethyl acetate extract of E. rubra´s stem was selective for PC-3. Both extracts showed unbalanced redox effects and promoted selective cell death.

Conclusions: This is the first study proving “selective oxycution” induced by Chilean native plant extracts.

Manuel Ahumada

DOI: 10.1186/s12906-024-04341-4
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