2013 Volume 7 Issue 2 Pages 84-89
Plants that contain anthracene-derived compounds such as anthraquinones have been reported to act as anticancer besides their use for millennia to treat constipation, but the mechanism of action is still unfolding. Therefore we pursue this study to explore a new horizon in the anticancer property of these agents with relevance to mitotic arrest. To achieve this goal, the antimitotic activity of a series of naturally occurring anthracene-derived anthraquinones including anthrone, alizarin (1,2-dihydroxyanthraquinone), quinizarin (1,4-dihydroxyanthraquinone), rhein (4,5-dihydroxyanthraquinone-2-carboxylic acid), emodin (1,6,8-trihydroxy-3-methyl-anthraquinone), and aloe emodin (1,8-dihydroxy-3-hydroxymethyl- anthraquinone) were evaluated using Allium cepa root tips. Initial results revealed that the mitosis was inhibited after 3, 6, and 24 h, respectively, of incubation with 500, 250, and 125 ppm of each compound in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, alizarin at 500 ppm was proved to be the most active compound to arrest the mitosis after 24 h followed by emodin, aloe emodin, rhein, and finally quinizarin. Interestingly, this inhibition of mitosis was irreversible in root tips incubated with each compound at concentration of 500 ppm but not with 250 ppm or 125 ppm, where the roots regained their normal mitotic activity after 96 h post-incubation in water. This re-evaluation of an old remedy suggests that several bioactive anthraquinones possess promising anti-mitotic activity that may have the potential to be lead compounds for the development of a new class of multifaceted natural anticancer/antimitotic agents.