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Toxicon. 1989;27(2):179-88.

Biological activity of saponins and saponin-like compounds from starfish and brittle-stars.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacognosy, Uppsala Biomedical Center, Uppsala University, Sweden.


Twenty-four saponins and saponin-like compounds, isolated from starfish and brittle-stars, have been tested in four in vitro tests, based upon bacterial and cell tissue cultures. Saponin-like compounds from brittle-stars have previously not been tested for biological activity. In an antibacterial test based on an agar diffusion test, the Gram positive bacterium S. aureus was affected by the polyhydroxylated steroidal glycosides, polyhydroxylated sterols and disulfated sterols. However, none of the 21 compounds tested were active against the Gram negative bacterium E. coli. In a cytotoxicity test all 21 compounds tested influenced the cells at a concentration of 100 micrograms/ml, while the cells were unaffected at 1 microgram/ml. In an antitumor test, 16 compounds were tested on two lymphoma cell lines. Inhibition of cell growth, at a concentration of 5 ng/ml, was seen for three polyhydroxylated sterols, in one cell line. Weak activity was seen in an antiviral test at a concentration of 10 micrograms/ml.

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