In vitro cytotoxic effects of chemical constituents of Euphorbia grandicornis Blanc against breast cancer cells

Douglas Kemboi Magozwi*, Xolani Peter, Moses K. Langat, Richwell Mhlanga, Nyeleti Vukea, Jo Anne de la Mare, Xavier Siwe-Noundou, Rui W.M. Krause, Vuyelwa Jacqueline Tembu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Euphorbia grandicornis Blanc is widely utilized in traditional medicine for a variety of ailments including body pains associated with skin irritations, inflammation, and snake or scorpion bites. Compounds from E. grandicornis were characterized using spectroscopic techniques, NMR, IR, MS, and melting points and alongside the extracts were evaluated for in vitro anticancer activity against several cancer cell lines. The root extract afforded known, β-glutinol (1), β-amyrin (2), 24-methylenetirucalla-8-en-3β-ol (3), tirucalla-8,25-diene-3β,24R-diol (4), stigmasterol (5), sitosterol (6), and hexyl (E)-3-(4‑hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)-2-propenoate (7) based on their NMR spectroscopic data for the first report in E. grandicornis. The extracts and isolated compounds were evaluated for anticancer activities against hormone receptor-positive breast cancer (MCF-7), triple-negative breast cancer (HCC70), and non-tumorigenic mammary epithelial (MCF-12A) cell lines. The CH2Cl2 extract exhibited potent, cytotoxicity against MCF-7, HCC70, and MCF-12A cells. The aerial extract exhibited IC50 values of 1.03, 0.301, and 1.68 µg/mL, and root extract displayed IC50 values of 0.83, 0.83 and 3.98 µg/mL against MCF-7, HCC70, and MCF-12A cells, respectively. The root extract thus showed selectivity for the cancer cell lines over the non-cancerous control cell line (SI = 4.80). Hexyl (E)-3-(4‑hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)-2-propenoate (7) showed significant activity with IC50 values of 23.41, 29.45 and 27.01 µM against MCF-7, HCC70 and MCF-12A cells, respectively, suggesting non-specific cytotoxicity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01002
JournalScientific African
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Chemical constituents
  • Cytotoxic activities
  • Euphorbia grandicornis
  • HCC70
  • MCF-12A
  • MCF-7


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