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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013, Article ID 823453, 8 pages
Research Article

Bonellia albiflora: A Mayan Medicinal Plant That Induces Apoptosis in Cancer Cells

Unidad de Investigación Médica Yucatán, Unidad Médica de Alta Especialidad, Centro Médico Ignacio García Téllez, Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, 41 No. 439 x 32 y 34, Colonia Industrial CP, 97150 Mérida, YUC, Mexico

Received 3 April 2013; Revised 31 May 2013; Accepted 1 June 2013

Academic Editor: Ulysses Paulino de Albuquerque

Copyright © 2013 Rosa Moo-Puc 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.


Few studies have been carried out on the medical flora of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula in search for new therapeutic agents, in particular against cancer. In this paper, we evaluated the cytotoxic potential of the extract of Bonellia albiflora, a plant utilized in the traditional Mayan medicine for treatment of chronic injuries of the mouth. We carried out the methanolic extracts of different parts of the plant by means of extraction with the Soxhlet equipment. We conducted liquid-liquid fractions on each extract with solvents of increasing polarity. All extracts and fractions were evaluated for cytotoxic activity versus four human cancer cell lines and one normal cell line through a tetrazolium dye reduction (MTT) assay in 96-well cell culture plates. The methanolic root-bark extract possessed much greater cytotoxic activity in the human oropharyngeal cancer cell line (KB); its hexanic fraction concentrated the active metabolites and induced apoptosis with the activation of caspases 3 and 8. The results demonstrate the cytotoxic potential of the B. albiflora hexanic fraction and substantiate the importance of the study of the traditional Mayan medicinal plants.