Antiproliferative activity of Syzygium coriaceum, an endemic plant of Mauritius, with its UPLC-MS metabolite fingerprint: A mechanistic study

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Flowering plants from the Syzygium genus have long been used in different ethnomedicinal systems worldwide and have been under scrutiny for their biological activities. Syzygium coriaceum, an endemic plant of Mauritius has been poorly studied for its potential application against cancer. Herein, Syzygium coriaceum leaf extract has been investigated for its anticancer effect against hepatocellular carcinoma (HepG2) cells. The anticancer activity was assessed using cell proliferation assays, flow cytometry, JC-1 mitochondrial membrane potential assay, and the COMET assay. Un-targeted metabolite profiling via ultra-performance liquid chromatography coupled to high-resolution qTOF-MS (UPLC-MS) and aided by molecular networking was employed to identify the crude extract metabolites. S. coriaceum treatment induced a dose-dependent increase in lactate dehydrogenase leakage into the culture media, peaking up to 47% (p ≤ 0.0001), compared to untreated control. Moreover, at 40 μg/mL, S. coriaceum led to 88.1% (p ≤ 0.0001) drop in mitochondrial membrane potential and 5.7% (p ≤ 0.001) increased in the number of the cell population in G0/G1 phase as well as increased (p < 0.05) the proportion of cells undergoing apoptotic/necrotic cell death. More so, at 10 μg/mL, S. coriaceum induced DNA damage which was 19 folds (p < 0.001) higher than that of untreated control cells. Metabolite profiling indicated the presence of 65 metabolites, out of which 59 were identified. Tannins, flavonoids, nitrogenous compounds, and organic acids were the most predominant classes of compounds detected. Our findings showed that the presence of tannins and flavonoids in S. coriaceum leaf extract could account for the multiple mechanisms of actions underlying the antiproliferative effect against HepG2 cells.

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