Journal of the science of food and agriculture

Bioactives in cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica) stems possess potent antioxidant and pro-apoptotic activities through COX-2 involvement.

PMID 25345579


Bioactives extracted from cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica) stems were investigated for their chemopreventive activities using human cancer cells in vitro. The bioactives present in crude extracts were detected and quantified using high-performance liquid chromatography. Among all the extracts, such as hexane, ethyl acetate (EtOAc), acetone, methanol (MeOH), and MeOH:water (80:20), the MeOH extract had the highest amount of polyphenolic compounds and the acetone extract exhibited the most potent effect at scavenging the 2,2,-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) and 2,2'-azino-di-(3-ethylbenzothiazoline)-6-sulfonic acid (ABTS(•+) ) radical. In addition, most of the extracts, with the exception of hexane, exhibited significant cytotoxicity in human SW480 colon and MCF7 breast cancer cells. Overall, the SW480 cells were more sensitive than the MCF7 cells to the cytotoxic effect of the O. ficus-indica extracts (OFEs). Cell death by OFE treatment caused significant inhibition of cyclooxygenase-2 and increased the Bax/Bcl2 ratio in both SW480 and MCF7 cell lines. However, degradation of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase was significantly increased by OFE only in the MCF7 cells, thereby inducing apoptosis. These findings demonstrate the health-benefit roles, including anti-oxidative and anti-proliferative activities as well as pro-apoptotic effects, of bioactive compounds in OFEs, suggesting a chemopreventive role in human cancer cells.