Phytochemicals from the genus, Fagonia, have been attracting increasing attention due to their potential beneficial effects on human health, particularly, anti-cancer properties. Certain Fagonia species contain various types of phytochemicals such as saponins, alkaloids, cardiac glycosides, flavonoids, terpenoids, and tannins. In this study, we investigated the phytochemical composition of a methanol extract of Fagonia indica and their antiproliferative/cytotoxic effects on the human breast cancer cell line, MCF-7 cells after 24, 48, and 72 hr of exposure. We found that F. indica contains the expected phytochemicals, in line with other reports on the phytochemical composition of this Fagonia species. The cell culture study demonstrated that the crude extract of F. indica without acid hydrolysis was ineffective in inhibiting the growth of human breast cancer cell line (MCF-7) at doses below 1000 µg/mL. However, after acid hydrolysis, the Fagonia extract became cytotoxic to MCF-7 cells even as low as 10 µg/mL, and the cytotoxicity increased with increasing dose and time of treatment. The results suggest that F. indica contains polyphenols as glycosides whose aglycones are highly bioactive in inhibiting the growth of breast cancer cells in vitro.
Keywords: flavonoids; cell viability; breast cancer; Fagonia indica