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Tropical forests constitute a prolific sanctuary of unique floral diversity and potential medicinal sources, however, many of them remain unexplored. The scarcity of rigorous scientific data on the surviving Mascarene endemic taxa renders bioprospecting of this untapped resource of utmost importance. Thus, in view of valorizing the native resource, this study has as its objective to investigate the bioactivities of endemic leaf extracts. Herein, seven Mascarene endemic plants leaves were extracted and evaluated for their in vitro antioxidant properties and antiproliferative effects on a panel of cancer cell lines, using methyl thiazolyl diphenyl-tetrazolium bromide (MTT) and clonogenic cell survival assays. Flow cytometry and comet assay were used to investigate the cell cycle and DNA damaging effects, respectively. Bioassay guided-fractionation coupled with liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (MS), gas chromatography-MS, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopic analysis were used to identify the bioactive compounds. Among the seven plants tested, Terminaliabentzoë was comparatively the most potent antioxidant extract, with significantly (p < 0.05) higher cytotoxic activities. T. bentzoë extract further selectively suppressed the growth of human hepatocellular carcinoma cells and significantly halted the cell cycle progression in the G0/G1 phase, decreased the cells' replicative potential and induced significant DNA damage. In total, 10 phenolic compounds, including punicalagin and ellagic acid, were identified and likely contributed to the extract's potent antioxidant and cytotoxic activities. These results established a promising basis for further in-depth investigations into the potential use of T. bentzoë as a supportive therapy in cancer management.

Original publication




Journal article


Pharmaceuticals (Basel)

Publication Date





Mascarene endemic, Terminalia bentzoë, antioxidant, bioassay-guided fractionation, cancer, cell cycle arrest, cytotoxicity, phenolics