Advances in Preventive Medicine and Health Care (ISSN: 2688-996X)

Article / short communication

"Medicinal Plants from Democratic Republic of the Congo as Sources of Anticancer Drugs"

Koto-te-Nyiwa Ngbolua1,2*, Damien S. Tshibangu2, Pius T. Mpiana2, Virima Mudogo2, Dorothée D. Tshilanda2, Colette Masengo Ashande1, Selvaraj Divakar3, Muthiah Ramanathan3, Govindarajan Syamala3

1University of Gbadolite, Nord-Ubangi Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo

2University of Kinshasa, Department of Science, Democratic Republic of the Congo

3Department of Pharmacology, PSG College of Pharmacy, Coimbatore, India

*Corresponding author: Koto-te-Nyiwa Ngbolua, University of Gbadolite, Nord-Ubangi Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Tel: +243816879527; Email:

Received Date: 09 January, 2018; Accepted Date: 11 January, 2018; Published Date: 17 January, 2018    

1.       Abstract 

According to the WHO, more than 80% of the population in Africa resort to the traditional medicine for their health care. In the present study, a survey was carried out among traditional practitioners and the most cited plant species was submitted to anticancer experiments in vitro. The results revealed that Gardenia ternifolia contains secondary metabolites with anticancer activity and is selective towards breast (MCF-7) cancerous cell lines. 

2.       Keywords: Botanical Medicine; Cancer; DR Congo; Evidence Based Medicine; Indigenous Knowledge

1.       Introduction

Cancer is a major public health problem all over the world and constitutes the second leading cause of death after cardiovascular disease [1]. Because of serious side effects of both chemo-and radiation therapies, many patients seek alternative and complementary methods of treatment. Several anti-cancer agents derived from plant species (Taxol, Camptothecin, Topotecan, etc. and their derivatives) are in clinical use or in preclinical development (Flavopiridol, Silvestrol, Betulinic acid, etc.) [2].

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as one of the hotspots of plant biodiversity in the world could play a key role in the R & D of new anti-cancer agents from it flora [3]. The aims of this multidisciplinary research program were:(a)To validate scientifically the traditional use of selected plant species by investigating anti-cancer activity of their extracts as a possible source of anti-cancer hits using human prostate (PC-3) and breast (MCF-7) cancerous cell lines and non-cancerous rat skeletal muscle L6 cell lines as model systems (Scientific evidence based Traditional Medicine); (b)To evaluate the therapeutic index of the biologically active extracts; (c)To develop anti-cancer phytomedicines as a result of the transformation of indigenous/ethno-medical knowledge into large scale action by the mean of Science and Technology(Research for sustainable development).

2.       Materials and Methods

An ethno-botanical survey was conducted in DRC according to the principles laid out in the Declaration of Helsinki and the Nagoya protocol. Traditional Healers and/or medicinal plant vendors (50) were interviewed about medicinal plants used in Congolese folk medicine [4]. The powdered leaves of Gardenia ternifolia were extracted by maceration. Successive extractions were carried out with organic solvents of increasing polarity (Petroleum ether, Chloroform, Ethyl acetate, Methanol and Methanol 80%). Anti-cancer bioactivity of different extracts was assessed by MTT assay. Paclitaxel was used as positive control [5].

3.       Results and Discussion

Ethno-botanical survey revealed that the most cited plant species was Gardenia ternifolia (or Lembanzau in Kikongo) with a high value of informant consensus factor (0.361). Biological screening revealed that chloroform and ethyl acetate soluble fractions are biologically active against MCF-7 cell lines with a CC50 (50% cytotoxic concentration) of 21.62±1.6μg/mL and 45.44±2.2μg/mL respectively. For PC-3 cell lines, the CC50 were 9.66±2.6μg/ml and 24.47±1.1μg/ml, respectively for chloroform and ethyl acetate extracts. The petroleum ether, methanol and methanol 80% crude extracts were inactive against both MCF-7 and PC-3 cell lines (50 < CC50<100 or CC50> 100 μg/ml).The chloroform extract displayed interesting therapeutic index or safety ratio (CC50 L6/CC50 MCF-7 or PC-3 ≥3).This extract is 3 or 7 times selective in killing the cancerous cell lines (MCF-7 or PC-3) than the non-cancerous cell lines (L6) [5]. This could be due to the different secondary metabolites extracted with the chloroform solvent. (Figure 1)

4.       Conclusion

The chloroform extract of Gardenia ternifolia decreases the cancerous cell lines density in vitro. As potential candidate, G. ternifolia could be developed as therapeutic phytomedicine against human prostate and breast cancers. Further studies are therefore in progress to purify and elucidate the structure(s) of bioactive compounds.

5.       Acknowledgment

The authors are indebted to the Organization staff of Unesco-Merck Africa Research Summit 2017 on Cancer Research & Vaccines development held in Port Louis, Mauritius founded by Merck Foundation.

Figure 1: Gardenia ternifolia.

Citation: Ngbolua KN, Tshibangu DS, Mpiana PT, Mudogo V, Tshilanda DD, et al. (2018) Medicinal Plants from Democratic Republic of the Congo as Sources of Anticancer Drugs. J Prev Med: JPVM-102. DOI: 10.29011/JPVM-102. 100002

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