Cytotoxic and Antibacterial Activity of an Extract from a Saudi Traditional Medicinal Plant Equisetum Arvense

  • Salsabil Aldaas

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Background:Many ancient civilizations have used plants for medicinal purposes and indeed research has suggested that plant-derived compounds can be useful for treating many ailments, including cancer and infectious diseases. One such plant, Equisetum arvense, commonly known as horsetail, is a herbal plant that grows in Saudi Arabia and is traditionally used as a diuretic. Objective (s): We sought to determine whether horsetail extract exhibits 1) cytotoxic activity on cell lines and 2) antibacterial activity on the bacterial strain Escherichia coli. Materials and Methods: Using dried aerial part of the horsetail plant, a methanolic extract was prepared for screening. This extract was examined for its cytotoxic effect on the following cell lines: cervical adenocarcinoma and breast adenocarcinoma as a cancer cell model; lung fibroblast as a normal cell model; and human embryonic kidney. After 72 hours of treatment, the cells were assayed to determine the relative percentages of dead and live cells. Microscopical examination was used to give approximate percentages and a general overview of the effect on cell morphology. The LIVE⁄DEAD® Viability⁄Cytotoxicity kit was used to determine viability of cells in the population by using two dyes: the green-fluorescent calcein-AM which stains living cells, and the red-fluorescent ethidium homodimer-1 which stains dead cells. The alamarBlue® assay, based on a fluorometric/colorimetric growth indicator that detects metabolic activity, was used to establish a relative percentage of the living cells in a population treated with the plant extract compared to untreated cells (control). To determine antibacterial activity, the disc diffusion method was used. Results: Preliminary screening suggests that the horsetail extract induces death on the four tested cell lines with the greatest effect on human embryonic kidney cells followed by breast adenocarcinoma. The extract also displayed antibacterial activity at the highest concentration tested. Future studies will focus on identifying and characterizing the active components within the horsetail extract that exert the cytotoxic and/or antibacterial activity. This may provide a new and novel therapeutic avenues for the treatment of cancer and specifically renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and urothelial cell carcinoma (UCC) patients. This also may suggest nephrotoxic effect possessed by the plant which has not been investigated by any previous studies.
Date of AwardMay 2011
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Physical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorKenneth Paul Minneman (Supervisor)

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