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J Med Food. 2006 Spring;9(1):55-61.

Antiproliferative activities of parthenolide and golden feverfew extract against three human cancer cell lines.

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Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina 29634, USA.


The medicinal herb feverfew [Tanacetum parthenium (L.) Schultz-Bip.] has long been used as a folk remedy for the treatment of migraine and arthritis. Parthenolide, a sesquiterpene lactone, is considered to be the primary bioactive compound in feverfew having anti-migraine, anti-tumor, and anti-inflammatory properties. In this study we determined, through in vitro bioassays, the inhibitory activity of parthenolide and golden feverfew extract against two human breast cancer cell lines (Hs605T and MCF-7) and one human cervical cancer cell line (SiHa). Feverfew ethanolic extract inhibited the growth of all three types of cancer cells with a half-effective concentration (EC50) of 1.5 mg/mL against Hs605T, 2.1 mg/mL against MCF-7, and 0.6 mg/mL against SiHa. Among the tested constituents of feverfew (i.e., parthenolide, camphor, luteolin, and apigenin), parthenolide showed the highest inhibitory effect with an EC50 against Hs605T, MCF-7, and SiHa of 2.6 microg/mL, 2.8 microg/mL, and 2.7 microg/mL, respectively. Interactions between parthenolide and flavonoids (apigenin and luteolin) in feverfew extract also were investigated to elucidate possible synergistic or antagonistic effects. The results revealed that apigenin and luteolin might have moderate to weak synergistic effects with parthenolide on the inhibition of cancer cell growth of Hs605T, MCF-7, and SiHa.

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