Euphorbia hyssopifolia L. is a weed with recognized antimicrobial potential employed in Indian, Asian and Latin-American popular medicine. However, little is known with regard to its toxic potential. The present study aimed to investigate the cytotoxic and genotoxic effects of ethanolic extract of E. hyssopifolia in HepG2 cell culture.
Phytochemical screening of ethanolic extract was carried out to determine the presence of active secondary plant metabolites. Six concentrations (0.00001, 0.0001, 0.001, 0.01, 0.1 and 1.0mg/mL) of ethanolic extract were tested by the MTT assay to verify cytotoxicity. Then, genotoxic evaluations (alkaline comet assay and cytokinesis-block micronucleus assay - CBMN) were carried out in HepG2 cells with extract concentrations of 0.01, 0.1 and 1.0mg/mL.
Mono and sesquiterpenes, triterpenes and steroids, and flavonoids were the main classes found in the phytochemical screening. Extract concentrations used in the MTT assay showed no cytotoxic activity. On the other hand, genotoxic activity was verified at 0.1 and 1.0mg/mL in the alkaline comet assay. Additionally, the 1.0mg/mL concentration induced severe cell damage leading to death in the CBMN assay, indicating a cytotoxic effect for this concentration in the latter method.
The use of E. hyssopifolia extract for medicinal purposes should be avoided, because concentrations above 0.01mg/mL may pose risk to human health due to cytotoxic and/or genotoxic effects.