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Nat Prod Res. 2014;28(20):1780-5. doi: 10.1080/14786419.2014.939081. Epub 2014 Jul 23.

Rotenone isolated from Pachyrhizus erosus displays cytotoxicity and genotoxicity in K562 cells.

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a Departamento de Productos Naturales , Instituto de Química, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México , Mexico City , D.F. Mexico.


Pachyrhizus erosus (Fabaceae) is a herb commonly known as 'yam bean', which has been cultivated in México since pre-Columbian times for its edible tubers. The seeds are also known for their acaricidal and insecticidal properties due to rotenone and other isoflavonoid contents. Rotenone has exhibited cytotoxic activity against several human tumour cell lines; however, its mechanism of action is still not fully understood. In this study, we determined the cytotoxicity of rotenone isolated from P. erosus seeds on K562 human leukaemia cells. Rotenone exhibited significant cytotoxic activity (IC50 = 13.05 μM), as determined by the MTT assay. Three other isolated isoflavonoids were not cytotoxic. Rotenone genotoxicity was detected using the comet assay. Rotenone induced cell death, and caspase-3 activation as indicated by TUNEL assay, and immunocytofluorescence. Plasmid nicking assay indicated that rotenone does not interact directly with DNA.


K562 leukaemia cells; Pachyrhizus erosus seeds; apoptosis; caspase-3; cytotoxicity; rotenone

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