Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
BioMed Research International
Volume 2014, Article ID 752941, 14 pages
Research Article

Antiproliferative Activity of the Isofuranonaphthoquinone Isolated from Bulbine frutescens against Jurkat T Cells

1School of Pharmacy, College of Health Sciences, University of Zimbabwe, Mount Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe
2The African Academy of Sciences, P.O. Box 24916, Nairobi, Kenya
3Biomolecular Interactions Analyses Group, Department of Biochemistry, University of Zimbabwe, P.O. Box MP 167, Mount Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe

Received 30 April 2013; Revised 19 August 2013; Accepted 29 October 2013; Published 16 January 2014

Academic Editor: Ajit S. Narang

Copyright © 2014 Penelope Tambama et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Cancer is a major public health burden in both developed and developing countries. The quinone moiety has been shown to possess antitumor activity and several cancer drugs in clinical use contain this entity. The effect of isofuranonaphthoquinone isolated from Bulbine frutescens on Jurkat T cells was determined. Cells were exposed to the isofuranonaphthoquinone (IFNQ) at different concentrations. Significant antiproliferative effects were observed which were comparable to that of the anticancer drug 1,3-bis(2-chloroethyl)-1-nitrosourea (BCNU). A combination of IFNQ with BCNU produced synergistic effects which were observed after 72 hrs. It was also observed that combining IFNQ with reduced glutathione abolished the anticancer activity of the compound. It is, therefore, proposed that the isofuranonaphthoquinone may exert part of its effect by producing reactive oxygen species resulting in death of the cells as the effects of this compound were antagonized by reduced glutathione. An investigation on the effects of isofuranonaphthoquinone on glutathione transferase (GST) activity and drug efflux pumps showed that this compound exhibited inhibitory effects on both the GST and the drug efflux pumping activities. Thus, the isofuranonaphthoquinone showed cytotoxicity, works through inhibition of some cellular mechanisms, and could present a potential source of lead compounds for anticancer drug development.