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Exp Ther Med. 2015 Apr;9(4):1421-1428. Epub 2015 Feb 3.

Cytotoxic effects of solvent-extracted active components of Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge on human cancer cell lines.

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Department of Pharmacy, College of Pharmacy, Pusan National University, Busan 609-735, Republic of Korea.
Department of Biochemistry, School of Medicine, Pusan National University, Yangsan 626-770, Republic of Korea.


Herbal extracts and dietary supplements may be extracted from the medicinal plants used in traditional Chinese medicine, and are used increasingly commonly worldwide for their benefits to health and quality of life. Thus, ensuring that they are safe for human consumption is a critical issue for the preparation of plant extracts as dietary supplements. The present study investigated extracts of Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge (S. miltiorrhiza), traditionally used in Asian countries to treat a variety of conditions, as a dietary supplement or as an ingredient in functional foods. Dried S. miltiorrhiza root was extracted with various solvents and under varying extraction conditions, and the effects of the extracts on the viability of five human cancer cell lines were compared. Extracts obtained using 100% ethanol and 100% acetone as solvents exhibited more potent effects compared with extracts obtained using 70 and 30% aqueous ethanol. Furthermore, the active components of S. miltiorrhiza ethanol extracts, known as tanshinones, were investigated. Dihydrotanshinone I was observed to exhibit a higher cytotoxic potential compared with the other tanshinones in the majority of the examined cell lines. Conversely, cryptotanshinone exhibited weak anti-cancer activity. In summary, the results of the present study suggest that the active components obtained from an ethanol extract of S. miltiorrhiza possess the potential to be used as ingredients in functional and health care foods that may be used to improve the effectiveness of chemotherapeutics in the prevention and/or treatment of cancer.


Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge; cancer; extraction; tanshinones

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