Immunostimulatory and cytotoxic activities of Indigofera suffruticosa (Fabaceae)
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One of the major disadvantages of the current cancer therapy is the suppression of the immune system. Brazilian flora is considered one of the most diverse in the world and many plants were found to contain active constituents that can be valuable sources of new drugs. The plant Indigofera suffruticosa was studied to determine its potential to stimulate the immune system and also to be effective against tumour cells. We investigated the effects of the alkaloidal fraction and the pure alkaloid indigo obtained from I. suffruticosa on macrophage activation by measuring nitric oxide (NO) and tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) production. Cytotoxic activity was also evaluated against the two tumour murine cells lines, LM2 (breast adenocarcinoma) and LP07 (lung adenocarcinoma). The alkaloidal fraction induced a high NO production and a moderated TNF-alpha release. The pure indigo demonstrated an elevated NO and TNF-alpha production. The fraction and the pure compound also exhibited cytotoxic activity against both adenocarcinoma cell lines and indigo showed the strongest cytotoxic activity with IC50 value of 0.89 mu g mL(-1) against LM2 and 1.44 mu g mL(-1) against LP07. Our results presented the immunostimulatory and cytotoxic activity of I. suffruticosa, enhancing macrophage function and therefore contributing to the host defence against tumours.