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Integr Cancer Ther. 2013 Sep;12(5):433-41. doi: 10.1177/1534735413485419. Epub 2013 Apr 24.

Antihyperglycemic drug Gymnema sylvestre also shows anticancer potentials in human melanoma A375 cells via reactive oxygen species generation and mitochondria-dependent caspase pathway.

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University of Kalyani, Kalyani, India.



Ethanolic extract of Gymnema sylvestre (GS) leaves is used as a potent antidiabetic drug in various systems of alternative medicine, including homeopathy. The present study was aimed at examining if GS also had anticancer potentials, and if it had, to elucidate its possible mechanism of action.


We initially tested possible anticancer potential of GS on A375 cells (human skin melanoma) through MTT assay and determined cytotoxicity levels in A375 and normal liver cells; we then thoroughly studied its apoptotic effects on A375 cells through protocols such as Hoechst 33258, H2DCFDA, and rhodamine 123 staining and conducted ELISA for cytochrome c, caspase 3, and PARP activity levels; we determined the mRNA level expression of cytochrome c, caspase 3, Bcl2, Bax, PARP, ICAD, and EGFR signaling genes through semiquantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and conducted Western blot analysis of caspase 3 and PARP. We also analyzed cell cycle events, determined reactive oxygen species accumulation, measured annexin V-FITC/PI and rhodamine 123 intensity by flow cytometry.


Compared with both normal liver cells and drug-untreated A375, the mortality of GS-treated A375 cells increased in a dose-dependent manner. Additionally, GS induced nuclear DNA fragmentation and showed an increased level of mRNA expression of apoptotic signal related genes cytochrome c, caspase 3, PARP, Bax, and reduced expression level of ICAD, EGFR, and the anti-apoptotic gene Bcl2.


Overall results indicate GS to have significant anticancer effect on A375 cells apart from its reported antidiabetic effect, indicating possibility of its palliative use in patients with symptoms of both the diseases.


A375 melanoma cells; DNA damage; Gymnema sylvestre; anticancer potential; apoptosis; reactive oxygen species

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