Smyrnium olusatrum (Apiaceae), well known as wild celery, is a biennal celery-scented plant used for many centuries as a vegetable, then abandoned after the introduction of celery. In the present work, the essential oil obtained from inflorescences and the amounts of its main constituents isofuranodiene, curzerene and germacrone were analyzed by GC as well as by HPLC because of their degradation (Cope rearrangement) occurring at high temperatures. The oil and the main constituents were assayed for cytotoxic activity on the human colon cancer cell line (HCT116) by MTT assay. Flower oil and isofuranodiene showed noteworthy activity on tumor cells with IC50 of 10.71 and 15.06 μg/ml, respectively. Analysis of the cytotoxic activity showed that wild celery oil and isofuranodiene are able to induce apoptosis in colon cancer cells in a time and concentration-dependent manner suggesting a potential role as models for the development of chemopreventive agents.
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