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BMC Complement Altern Med. 2017 Aug 1;17(1):377. doi: 10.1186/s12906-017-1865-2.

Centella asiatica modulates cancer cachexia associated inflammatory cytokines and cell death in leukaemic THP-1 cells and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC's).

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Discipline of Medical Biochemistry, Faculty of Health Sciences, Nelson Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 4013, South Africa.
Division of Biotechnology, School of Life Sciences, Manipal University, Planetarium Complex, Manipal, Karnataka, 576 104, India.
African Cancer Institute, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, P.O. Box 241, Cape Town, 8000, South Africa.
Division of Health Systems and Public Health, Department of Global Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, P.O. Box 241, Cape Town, 8000, South Africa.



Cancer cachexia is associated with increased pro-inflammatory cytokine levels. Centella asiatica (C. asiatica) possesses antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumour potential. We investigated the modulation of antioxidants, cytokines and cell death by C. asiatica ethanolic leaf extract (CLE) in leukaemic THP-1 cells and normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC's).


Cytotoxcity of CLE was determined at 24 and 72 h (h). Oxidant scavenging activity of CLE was evaluated using the 2, 2-diphenyl-1 picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) assay. Glutathione (GSH) levels, caspase (-8, -9, -3/7) activities and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels (Luminometry) were then assayed. The levels of tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin (IL)-6, IL-1β and IL-10 were also assessed using enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay.


CLE decreased PBMC viability between 33.25-74.55% (24 h: 0.2-0.8 mg/ml CLE and 72 h: 0.4-0.8 mg/ml CLE) and THP-1 viability by 28.404% (72 h: 0.8 mg/ml CLE) (p < 0.0001). Oxidant scavenging activity was increased by CLE (0.05-0.8 mg/ml) (p < 0.0001). PBMC TNF-α and IL-10 levels were decreased by CLE (0.05-0.8 mg/ml) (p < 0.0001). However, PBMC IL-6 and IL-1β concentrations were increased at 0.05-0.2 mg/ml CLE but decreased at 0.4 mg/ml CLE (p < 0.0001). In THP-1 cells, CLE (0.2-0.8 mg/ml) decreased IL-1β and IL-6 whereas increased IL-10 levels (p < 0.0001). In both cell lines, CLE (0.05-0.2 mg/ml, 24 and 72 h) increased GSH concentrations (p < 0.0001). At 24 h, caspase (-9, -3/7) activities was increased by CLE (0.05-0.8 mg/ml) in PBMC's whereas decreased by CLE (0.2-0.4 mg/ml) in THP-1 cells (p < 0.0001). At 72 h, CLE (0.05-0.8 mg/ml) decreased caspase (-9, -3/7) activities and ATP levels in both cell lines (p < 0.0001).


In PBMC's and THP-1 cells, CLE proved to effectively modulate antioxidant activity, inflammatory cytokines and cell death. In THP-1 cells, CLE decreased pro-inflammatory cytokine levels whereas it increased anti-inflammatory cytokine levels which may alleviate cancer cachexia.


Apoptosis; Cachexia; Cancer; Centella asiatica; Cytokines

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