Cytotoxicity and apoptosis induced by alfalfa (Medicago sativa) leaf extracts in sensitive and multidrug-resistant tumor cells.Nutr Cancer. 2014; 66(3):483-91.NC
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) has been used to cure a wide variety of ailments. However, only a few studies have reported its anticancer effects. In this study, extracts were obtained from alfalfa leaves and their cytotoxic effects were assessed on several sensitive and multidrug-resistant tumor cells lines. Using the mouse leukaemia P388 cell line and its doxorubicin-resistant counterpart (P388/DOX), we showed that the inhibition of cell growth induced by alfalfa leaf extracts was mediated through the induction of apoptosis, as evidenced by DNA fragmentation analysis. The execution of programmed cell death was achieved via the activation of caspase-3, leading to PARP cleavage. Fractionation of toluene extract (To-1), the most active extract obtained from crude extract, led to the identification of 3 terpene derivatives and 5 flavonoids. Among them, (-)-medicarpin, (-)-melilotocarpan E, millepurpan, tricin, and chrysoeriol showed cytotoxic effects in P388 as well as P388/DOX cells. These results demonstrate that alfalfa leaf extract may have interesting potential in cancer chemoprevention and therapy.