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J Submicrosc Cytol Pathol. 1997 Oct;29(4):503-9.

Cytotoxic effect against HeLa cells of polysaccharides from the lichen Ramalina celastri.

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  • 1Department of Animal Morphology and Physiology, Federal Rural University of Pernambuco, Recife, PE, Brazil.


The most active polysaccharides which show anti-tumoral activity are (1-->3)-beta-D-glucans, branched or not at O-6. Since these structures are sometimes poorly soluble in aqueous media, alpha-D-glucans and their chemical derivatives, which are more soluble, were also studied. The present object is to observe morphological alterations in HeLa cells caused by two different polysaccharides obtained from the lichen Ramalina celastri, which are (1-->3),(1-->4)-linked alpha-D-glucan and its sulphated derivative. The cells were incubated in Eagle's medium in the absence or presence of each polysaccharide and routinely processed and analysed by light and electron microscopy. Even though the alpha-D-glucan altered the cellular volume, cytoplasmic densities, and mitosis, the resulting monolayer was similar to the control. TEM analysis showed cytoplasmic blebbing and the presence of an amorphous electron-dense material free in the cytoplasm and interior membranes. The enhanced injury caused by the sulphated derivative was apparent, altering cell adhesion and causing cell aggregation. Nuclear modifications such as fragmentation and condensation of chromatin under the nuclear envelope, which showed to be convoluted, suggested the occurrence of cell death by apoptosis.

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