Moringa oleifera extracts have also been proposed as potential anticancer agents. Cancer is one of the main causes
of deaths worldwide. Although many drugs exist against several types of cancer, more specific agents with lower side effects are necessary. Few reports exist regarding the antitumor activity of Moringa oleifera leaf extract in cancer cells. We investigated the effect of Moringa oleifera leaf extract in ovarian, prostate and breast human cancer cell lines. We hypothesized that the Moringa oleifera leaf extract will inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
In investigated the anti-cancer effect of Moringa oleifera leaf, bark and seed extracts. When tested against MDA-MB-231 and HCT-8 cancer cell lines, the extracts of leaves and bark showed remarkable anti-cancer properties while surprisingly, seed extracts exhibited hardly any such properties. Cell survival was significantly low in both cells lines when treated with leaves and bark extracts. Furthermore, a striking reduction (about 70–90%) in colony formation as well as cell motility was observed upon treatment with leaves and bark.
Additionally, apoptosis assay performed on these treated breast and colorectal cancer lines showed a remarkable increase in the number of apoptotic cells; with a 7 fold increase in MD-MB-231 to an increase of several fold in colorectal cancer cell lines. However, no significant apoptotic cells were detected upon seeds extract treatment. Moreover, the cell cycle distribution showed a G2/M enrichment (about 2–3 fold) indicating that these extracts effectively arrest the cell progression at the G2/M phase. The GC-MS analyses of these extracts revealed numerous known anti-cancer compounds, namely eugenol, isopropyl isothiocynate, D-allose, and hexadeconoic acid ethyl ester, all of which possess long chain hydrocarbons, sugar moiety and an aromatic ring.
This suggests that the anti-cancer properties of Moringa oleifera could be attributed to the bioactive compounds present in the extracts from this plant. This is a novel study because no report has yet been cited on the effectiveness of Moringa extracts obtained in the locally grown environment as an anti-cancer agent against breast and colorectal cancers. Our study is the first of its kind to evaluate the anti-malignant properties of Moringa not only in leaves but also in bark. These findings suggest that both the leaf and bark extracts of Moringa collected from the Saudi Arabian region possess anti-cancer activity that can be used to develop new drugs for treatment of breast and colorectal cancers.