Methanolic Extract from Aerial Parts of Artemisia Annua L. Induces Cytotoxicity and Enhances Vincristine-Induced Anticancer Effect in Pre-B Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Cells

  • Pargol Mashati
  • Somayeh Esmaeili
  • Nasrin Dehghan-Nayeri
  • Davood Bashash
  • Mina Darvishi
  • Ahmad Gharehbaghian
Keywords: Acute lymphoblastic leukemia; Vincristine; Extract; Apoptosis; Cytotoxicity


Background: Nowadays, remarkable attention has been drawn towards the effective therapeutic characteristic of natural products targeting cancerous cells. This study aimed to investigate the anti-cancer effect of Artemisia annua extract (AAE), a Chinese herbal medicine alone and in combination with a microtubule binding agent used in ALL treatment, vincristine (VCR), in B-Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) Nalm-6 and Reh cells.

Materials and Methods: Cytotoxic activity of AAE and VCR was determined using MTT assay in Nalm-6, and Reh cell lines and synergism was evaluated using the CompuSyn software. Caspase 3 activity and Annexin/PI staining were performed for apoptosis assessment. The expression level of apoptosis-related genes, caspase 3, Bax and Bcl-2 were determined using real time-PCR. One-way ANOVA and post hoc Tukey multiple comparisons were used for statistical analysis.

Results: Our findings revealed that a single administration of AAE exerted an anti-leukemic effect in both ALL-derived cells in a time- and dose-dependent manner. Interestingly, the growth inhibitory activity of the extract was more potentiated when combined with 0.1 and 1 nM VCR through caspase 3-dependent apoptosis. Moreover, real-time PCR analysis showed that VCR-induced cytotoxicity was augmented by AAE through alteration of Bax, and Bcl-2 mRNA expression.

Conclusion: Overall, owing to the nontoxic nature of AAE and its explicit role in enhancing VCR effectiveness, our study provided new insight into the development of a novel combinatorial approach in ALL using natural herbs. The practical implication of the research requires further investigation through clinical trials, opening avenues for forthcoming treatment improvements.