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Oncol Lett. 2018 Apr;15(4):5915-5923. doi: 10.3892/ol.2018.8052. Epub 2018 Feb 14.

Yellow and green pigments from Calophyllum inophyllum L. seed oil induce cell death in colon and lung cancer cells.

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Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Biopharmaceuticals, National Chiayi University, Chiayi 60004, Taiwan, R.O.C.
Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology Sciences, National Chiayi University, Chiayi 60004, Taiwan, R.O.C.
Forest Chemistry Division, Taiwan Forestry Research Institute, Taipei 10066, Taiwan, R.O.C.
Silviculture Division, Taiwan Forestry Research Institute, Taipei 10066, Taiwan, R.O.C.
Fushan Botanic Garden, Taiwan Forestry Research Institute, Yuanshan, Yilan 26445, Taiwan, R.O.C.


Natural compounds have been candidates for anticancer medicine over the last 20 years. During the process of isolating seed oil from Calophyllum inophyllum L., yellow and green pigments containing multiple compounds with an aromatic structure were identified. High-performance liquid chromatography and nuclear magnetic resonance analysis of these pigments revealed that the compounds present were identical, but the concentration of the compounds was different. Treatment with the pigments was able to induce the death of DLD-1 human colon cancer cells and increase the percentage of the cells in the sub-G1 and sub-G2/M phases in a dose-dependent manner. Additionally, the pigments were able to exhibit cytotoxic activity on A549 and H1975 human non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines at 24 h, with half-maximal inhibitory concentrations (IC50) values of 0.1206 and 0.0676%, respectively for green pigments, and 0.0434 and 0.0501%, respectively for yellow pigments. Furthermore, a decrease in IC50 value was associated with an increase in the duration of treatment. However, a sharp decrease in IC50 value of the yellow pigment was observed for H1975 cells at 48 h and for A549 cells at 72 h compared with no change in IC50 value for the green pigment with time, suggesting that the pigments function and induce cell death differently in the two cell lines. An investigation was performed into the synergistic effect of the green pigment and gefitinib (Iressa®, ZD1839), which is a selective epidermal growth factor receptor-tyrosine kinase inhibitor to block growth factor-mediated cell proliferation. The combination of the green pigment and gefitinib resulted in an enhancement of the decrease in viability of A549 and H1975 cells compared with treatment with gefitinib alone, which suggested that treatment with the green pigments was able to enhance the sensitivity of NSCLC cells to gefitinib. In conclusion, these pigments may be considered for development as anti-colon cancer agents.


apoptosis; colon cancer; gefitinib; high-performance liquid chromatography; non-small cell lung cancer; pigments

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