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Biomed Res Int. 2013;2013:206581. doi: 10.1155/2013/206581. Epub 2012 Dec 19.

Antioxidant and cytotoxic effects of crude extract, fractions and 4-nerolidylcathecol from aerial parts of Pothomorphe umbellata L. (Piperaceae).

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Departamento de Ciências Exatas e da Terra, Instituto de Ciências Ambientais, Químicas e Farmacêuticas, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, São Nicolau Street 210, 09972-270 Diadema, SP, Brazil.


The crude ethanolic extract from aerial parts of Pothomorphe umbellata L. (Piperaceae) and fractions obtained by partitions sequentially among water-methanol, methylene chloride, and ethyl acetate, as well as the major constituent, 4-nerolidylcatechol, were, respectively, evaluated and evidenced for antioxidant and cytotoxic effects through fluorometric microplate and microculture tetrazolium assays in HL-60 cells. The crude ethanolic extract demonstrated the preeminent antioxidant activity (IC50 = 1.2  μg/mL) against exogenous cytoplasmic reactive oxygen species, followed by the water-methanolic (IC50 = 4.5  μg/mL), methylene chloride (IC50 = 5.9  μg/mL), ethyl acetate (IC50 = 8.0  μg/mL), 4-nerolidylcatechol (IC50 = 8.6  μg/mL), and the sterol fractions (IC50 > 12.5  μg/mL). Vitamin C, the positive control used in this assay, presented IC50 value equivalent to 1.7  μg/mL. 4-Nerolidylcatechol (IC50 = 0.4  μg/mL) and methylene chloride fraction (IC50 = 2.3  μg/mL) presented considerable cytotoxicity probably because of the presence of an o-quinone, an auto-oxidation by product of the catechol. Polar compounds, present in the ethanol extract, appear to increase the solubility and stability of the major active constituent, acting synergistically with 4-nerolidylcatechol, improving its pharmacokinetic parameters and increasing significantly its antioxidant activity which, in turn, suggests that the aqueous-ethanolic extract, used in folklore medicine, is safe and effective.

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