Azorella glabra Wedd. (AG) is traditionally used to treat gonorrhea or kidney's problems. The antioxidant, antidiabetic, anticholinesterase and in vitro antitumor activities of AG extracts were recently reported. The aim of this work was to investigate anti-leukemic properties of AG chloroform fraction (AG CHCl3) and of its ten sub-fractions (I-X) and to identify their possible bioactive compounds. We determined their in vitro antioxidant activity using 2,2'-azino-bis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid) (ABTS), nitric oxide (NO) and superoxide anion (SO) assays, and their phytochemical profile by spectrophotometric and LC-MS/MS techniques. I-X action on two acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cell lines viability, apoptosis and cell cycle were evaluated by MTS, western blotting and cytofluorimetric assays. Different polyphenol, flavonoid and terpenoid amount, and antioxidant activity were found among all samples. Most of I-X induced a dose/time dependent reduction of cell viability higher than parent extract. IV and VI sub-fractions showed highest cytotoxic activity and, of note, a negligible reduction of healthy cell viability. They activated intrinsic apoptotic pathway, induced a G0/G1 block in leukemic cells and, interestingly, led to apoptosis in patient AML cells. These activities could be due to mulinic acid or azorellane terpenoids and their derivatives, tentatively identified in both IV and VI. In conclusion, our data suggest AG plant as a source of potential anti-AML agents.
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