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Iran J Pharm Res. 2014 Spring;13(2):719-24.

Effect of boswellia thurifera gum methanol extract on cytotoxicity and p53 gene expression in human breast cancer cell line.

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Department of Biochemistry, Falavarjan Branch, Islamic Azad University, Isfahan, Iran.
Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Advanced Sciences and Technologies, University of Isfahan, Iran, Isfahan.


Boswellia has been widely used in traditional medicine for the treatment of different diseases such as cancer in Iran. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of the gum methanol extract of Boswellia thurifera on the viability and P53 gene expression of cultured breast cancer cells. The gum methanol extract was obtained in various concentrations using the maceration method. Normal (HEK-293) and cancer (MDA-MB-231) human cells were cultured and treated with various concentrations of the extract. Then MTT assay was used for the study of cytotoxic effect of the extract and real time PCR method was also applied for the investigation of P53 gene expression in cancer cells. The IC50 of the extract against cancer cells was 80 µg/mL and had less cytotoxic effect in normal cells. The effect of the extract was dose dependent. Induction of P53 expression by extract was also significantly more in treated cancer cells than untreated cells. This inductive effect in cells was higher after 12 h treatment than it was after 6 h. The results of the current study show that gum methanol extract of Boswellia thurifera has probably anti-cancer effects and could induce P53 gene transcription and toxicity in the cultured breast cancer cell line. The increase of P53 gene specific mRNA may be a mechanism of gum methanol extract induced cytotoxicity. However, for a definitive conclusion, further studies on other cell lines as well as animal models and subsequent clinical studies are warranted.


Boswellia; Breast cancer; MTT assay; P53 gene; Real time PCR


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