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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2011, Article ID 134954, 7 pages
Research Article

Cytotoxic Activity of Crude Extracts as well as of Pure Components from Jatropha Species, Plants Used Extensively in African Traditional Medicine

1Department of Chemistry, University of Ibadan, Ibadan 200284, Nigeria
2Department of Chemistry, University of Ilorin, Ilorin 24003, Nigeria
3Dipartimento di Chimica delle Sostanze Naturali, Università di Napoli Federico II, Via D. Montesano, 49, 80131 Napoli, Italy
4Institute for Physiological Chemistry, University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Duesbergweg 6, 55128 Mainz, Germany

Received 29 November 2010; Revised 10 February 2011; Accepted 31 March 2011

Copyright © 2011 Olapeju O. Aiyelaagbe 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.


Extracts from Jatropha curcas, a plant used in African traditional medicine for various diseases, were tested for cytotoxic activity. The root extracts strongly reduced cell growth of tumor cells in vitro, a result consistent with the knowledge of the application of these plant extracts in traditional medicine, especially to cure/ameliorate cancer. A selection of pure diterpenoids existing in extracts from Jatropha species and isolated from J. curcas, for example, curcusone C, curcusone D, multidione, 15-epi-4Z-jatrogrossidentadion, 4Z-jatrogrossidentadion, 4E-jatrogrossidentadion, 2-hydroxyisojatrogrossidion, and 2-epi-hydroxyisojatrogrossidion, were likewise tested, and they also showed strong cytotoxic activity. It turned out that these extracts are highly active against L5178y mouse lymphoma cells and HeLa human cervix carcinoma cells, while they cause none or only very low activity against neuronal cell, for example, PC12. These data underscore that extracts from J. curcas or pure secondary metabolites from the plant are promising candidates to be anticancer drug, combined with low neuroactive effects.