Calotropis gigantea stem bark extract induced apoptosis related to ROS and ATP production in colon cancer cells

by Thanwarat Winitchaikul, Suphunwadee Sawong, Damratsamon Surangkul, Metawee Srikummool, Julintorn Somran, Dumrongsak Pekthong, Kittiya Kamonlakorn, Pranee Nangngam, Supawadee Parhira, Piyarat Srisawang

Conventional chemotherapeutic agents for colorectal cancer (CRC) cause systemic side effects and eventually become less efficacious owing to the development of drug resistance in cancer cells. Therefore, new therapeutic regimens have focused on the use of natural products. The anticancer activity of several parts of Calotropis gigantea has been reported; however, the effects of its stem bark extract on inhibition of cancer cell proliferation have not yet been examined. In this study, the anticancer activity of C. gigantea stem bark extract, both alone and in combination with 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), was evaluated. A crude ethanolic extract was prepared from dry, powdered C. gigantea barks using 95% ethanol. This was then partitioned to obtain dichloromethane (CGDCM), ethyl acetate, and water fractions. Quantitative analysis of the constituent secondary metabolites and calotropin was performed. These fractions exhibited cytotoxicity in HCT116 and HT-29 cells, with CGDCM showing the highest potency in both the cell lines. A combination of CGDCM and 5-FU significantly enhanced the cytotoxic effect. Moreover, the resistance of normal fibroblast, HFF-1, cells to this combination demonstrated its safety in normal cells. The combination significantly enhanced apoptosis through the mitochondria-dependent pathway. Additionally, the combination reduced adenosine triphosphate production and increased the production of reactive oxygen species, demonstrating the mechanisms involved in the induction of apoptosis. Our results suggest that CGDCM is a promising anti-cancer agent and may enhance apoptosis induction by 5-FU in the treatment of CRC, while minimizing toxicity toward healthy cells.

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