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Planta Med. 1994 Oct;60(5):434-7.

Cytotoxicity of flavonoids and sesquiterpene lactones from Arnica species against the GLC4 and the COLO 320 cell lines.

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  • 1Department of Pharmaceutical Biology, University Centre for Pharmacy, University of Groningen, The Netherlands.


The cytotoxicity of 21 flavonoids and 5 sesquiterpene lactones, as present in Arnica species, was studied in GLC4, a human small cell lung carcinoma cell line, and in COLO 320, a human colorectal cancer cell line, using the microculture tetrazolium (MTT) assay. Following continuous incubation, most flavonoids showed moderate to low cytotoxicity, as compared with the reference compound cisplatin (IC50 = 1.1 microM against GLC4 and 2.9 microM against COLO 320). Their IC50 values varied from 17 to > 200 microM. The most toxic compound was the flavone jaceosidin. Of the sesquiterpene lactones tested, helenalin, possessing both the reactive alpha-methylene-gamma-lactone moiety and a reactive alpha,beta-unsubstituted cyclopentenone ring, displayed the strongest cytotoxicity. For 2 h exposure, its IC50 value was 0.44 microM against GLC4 and 1.0 microM against COLO 320. COLO 320 was more sensitive than GLC4 for many flavonoids (especially for flavones), but more resistant to the cytotoxic effect of the sesquiterpene lactones bearing an exocylic methylene group fused to the lactone function.

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