In parts of Africa and Asia, self-medication with a hot water infusion of Artemisia annua (Artemisia tea) is a common practice for a number of ailments including malaria and cancer. In our earlier work, such an extract showed better potency than artemisinin alone against both chloroquine-sensitive and -resistant parasites. In this study, in vitro tests of the infusion in MCF7 cells showed high IC50 values (>200 μM). The combination of artemisinin and 3-caffeoylquinic acid (3CA), two major components in the extract, was strongly antagonistic and gave a near total loss of cytotoxicity for artemisinin. We observed that the interaction of 3CAs with another cytotoxic compound, cisplatin, showed potentiation of activity by 2.5-fold. The chelation of cellular iron by 3CA is hypothesized as a possible explanation for the loss of artemisinin activity.
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