Send to

Choose Destination
J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Jun 1;135(3):719-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2011.04.004. Epub 2011 Apr 8.

Screening of plants used in Mayan traditional medicine to treat cancer-like symptoms.

Author information

Unidad de Biotecnología, Centro de Investigación Científica de Yucatán (CICY), Calle 43 No. 130, Col. Chuburná de Hidalgo, Mérida, Yucatán 97200, Mexico.



To investigate the potential of plants used in Mayan traditional medicine to treat cancer-like symptoms using the Mayan ethnobotany literature, and evaluate their organic extracts for in vitro cytotoxic activity on cancer cell lines.


The selection of the plants studied in this investigation was based on the Mayan ethnobotanical information provided by different literature sources. Extracts were obtained by maceration with methanol for 72 h of each plant part used and evaporated in vacuo to give the corresponding dried extract. Each methanol extract was tested for its cytotoxicity using the 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay performed in 96-well tissue plates on seven cancer cell lines, lung carcinoma (A549), cervix adenocarcinoma (HeLa), laryngeal carcinoma (Hep-2), nasopharynx carcinoma (KB), breast adenocarcinoma (MCF-7), prostate adenocarcinoma (PC-3), and cervix squamous carcinoma cells (SiHa), as well as normal human embryonic kidney cell line (HEK-293). Cell proliferation/viability was spectrophotometrically assessed at 540 nm after addition of MTT.


51 plants were found in the literature to be used for the treatment of symptoms suggestive of cancer, 21 were chosen to evaluate the cytotoxic activity. Aeschynomene fascicularis root bark extract showed a pronounced cytotoxic activity on Hela and KB cell lines and Bonellia macrocarpa stem and root bark extracts showed similar prominent activities on KB cells.


21 plants were selected according to their use in the treatment of cancer-like symptoms recorded in the ethnobotanical literature. Plant extracts prepared from Aeschynomene fascicularis root bark and Bonellia macrocarpa stem and root bark have been selected for extensive studies leading to the isolation of the active constituents.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center