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The in vitro anti-cancer activities of Ocimum sanctum leaf extracts (holy basil)


In this study, a researcher at Government Degree College, Khairatabad in India investigated the anti-cancer activity of plant suspension cultures of Ocimum sanctum (holy basil) against lung cancer. Key findings were published in the International Journal of Green Pharmacy.

  • Ethanol, acetone and aqueous leaf extracts of O. sanctum were used to treat human lung cancer (A549) cells. Their in vitro anti-cancer activity was evaluated using MTT assay and trypan blue dye exclusion assay.
  • The former is based on the capacity of mitochondrial enzymes of viable cells to reduce MTT, a yellow soluble salt, to purple-blue insoluble formazan precipitate. This is quantified using a spectrophotometer at 570 nm.
  • The latter, meanwhile, is based on cell staining and is used to quantify the number of viable cells present in a cell suspension.
  • Cells are then counted using a hemocytometer under a microscope, where non-viable cells will be stained blue and viable cells will remain unstained.
  • The researchers reported that the aqueous leaf extract of O. sanctum did not show anti-cancer activity, but its acetone and ethanol leaf extracts did.
  • The acetone leaf extracts displayed the highest anti-cancer activity against human cancer cells at a concentration of 40 to 50 mcg/mL.

Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that O. sanctum acetone and ethanol leaf extracts have anti-cancer properties and can be used against lung cancer.

Journal Reference:

Yadavalli V. EVALUATION OF ANTICANCER COMPOUNDS FROM SUSPENSION CULTURES OF HOLY BASIL (OCIMUM SANCTUM L.). International Journal of Green Pharmacy. 2019;13(2):98. DOI: 10.22377/ijgp.v13i2.2487



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