Evaluation of Antioxidant, Antibacterial and Cytotoxic Activity of Methanol Extract from Leaves and Fruits of Iranian Squirting Cucumber (Ecballium elaterium (L.) A. Rich)

Document Type : Original paper


1 Food and Drug Research Center, Vice-Chancellery of Food and Drug, Guilan University of Medical Sciences, Rasht, Iran.

2 Department of Medicinal Chemistry, School of Pharmacy, Guilan University of Medical Sciences, Rasht, Iran.

3 Department of Pharmacognosy, School of Pharmacy, Guilan University of Medical Sciences, Rasht, , Iran.


Background and objectives: Ecballium elaterium (L.) A. Rich (squirting cucumber) has been used traditionally as a remedy for different disorders such as fever, sinusitis, and rheumatic disease. In the present study, antibacterial, antioxidant, and cytotoxic activities of leaves and fruits were evaluated. Also, total flavonoid and phenolic contents were measured were measured. Methods: The fruits and leaves of E. elaterium were extracted by percolation method with methanol. The antioxidant activity was assessed by 2, 2'-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) methods. Then, the total phenolics and flavonoids contents were measured. The cytotoxicity was tested against three cancerous cell lines (MCF-7, MDA-MB-468 and MKN-45) and a normal cell line (HDF). Antibacterial activity was investigated against Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecalis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Escherichia coli. Results: The total phenolics content of leaves and fruits were 39.97 and 30.90 mg gallic acid equivalents/g of dry extract, respectively. Also, the total flavonoids content in leaf extract was 49.17 mg quercetin as equivalents/g of dry extract while flavonoids were not detected in the fruit extract. In the DPPH assay, the IC50 values were 1.15 and 1.18 mg/mL for leaves and fruits, respectively.The fruit extract showed the most considerable antibacterial activity (MIC 37.5 mg/mL) against P. aeruginosa. Both extracts indicated cytotoxicity on MDA-MB-468 cells (IC50 264 and 50 µg/mL, respectively). Conclusion: The antioxidant, antibacterial, and cytotoxicity of extracts may be due to some secondary metabolites like phenolic compounds and flavonoids. This study suggests that this plant could be considered for further investigations as a natural source of biological compounds.


Main Subjects

[1] Adwan G, Salameh Y, Adwan K. Effect of ethanolic extract of Ecballium elaterium against Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans. Asian Pac J Trop Biomed. 2011; 1(6): 456-460.
[2] Bohlooli S, Jafari N, Jahed S. Cytotoxic effect of freeze-dried extract of Ecballium elaterium fruit on gastric adenocarcinoma (AGS) and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (KYSE30) cell lines. J Gastrointest Cancer. 2012; 43(4): 579-583.
[3] Felhi S, Hajlaoui H, Ncir M, Bakari S, Ktari N, Saoudi M, Gharsallah N, Kadri A. Nutritional, phytochemical and antioxidant evaluation and FT-IR analysis of freeze dried extracts of Ecballium elaterium fruit juice from three localities. J Food Sci Technol. 2016; 36(4): 646-655.
[4] Abbassi F, Ayari B, Mhamdi B, Toumi L. Phenolic contents and antimicrobial activity of squirting cucumber (Ecballium elaterium) extracts against food-borne pathogens. Pakistan J Pharm Sci. 2014; 27(3): 475-479.
[5] Attard E, Cuschieri A, Scicluna-Spiteri A, Brincat MP. The effects of cucurbitacin E on two lymphocyte models. Pharm Biol. 2004; 42(2): 170-175.
[6] Chalupová M, Pražanová G, Parák T, Švajdlenka E, Žemlička M, Suchý P. Hepatoprotective and proapoptotic effect of Ecballium elaterium on CCl4-induced hepatotoxicity in rats. Asian Pac J Trop Med. 2015; 8(7): 526-531.
[7] Demir M, Taylan M, Kaya H, Ekinci A, Arslan D, Aslan E, Keles A, Yılmaz S, Sezgi C. Histopathological and biochemical effects of Ecballium elaterium on sepsis-induced lung injury. J Invest Surg. 2016; 29(5): 302-308.
[8] Uslu C, Karasen RM, Sahin F, Taysi S, Akcay F. Effect of aqueous extracts of Ecballium elaterium rich, in the rabbit model of rhinosinusitis. Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2006; 70(3): 515-518.
[9] Jafargholizadeh N, Zargar SJ, Yassa N, Tavakoli S. Purification of cucurbitacins D, E, and I from Ecballium elaterium (L.) A. rich fruits and study of their cytotoxic effects on the AGS cell line. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2016; 17(10): 4631-4635.
[10] Touihri-Barakati I, Kallech-Ziri O, Ayadi W, Kovacic H, Hanchi B, Hosni K, Luis J. Cucurbitacin B purified from Ecballium elaterium (L.) A. Rich from Tunisia inhibits α5β1 integrin-mediated adhesion, migration, proliferation of human glioblastoma cell line and angiogenesis. Eur J Pharmacol. 2017; 797: 153-161.
[11] Ghasemi S, Koohi DE, Emmamzadehhashemi MSB, Khamas SS, Moazen M, Hashemi AK, Amin G, Golfakhrabadi F, Yousefi Z, Yousefbeyk F. Investigation of phenolic compounds and antioxidant activity of leaves extracts from seventeen cultivars of Iranian olive (Olea europaea L.). J Food Sci Technol. 2018; 55(11): 4600-4607.
[12] Yousefbeyk F, Vatandoost H, Golfakhrabadi F, Mirzaee Z, Abai MR, Amin G, Khanavi M. Antioxidant and larvicidal activity of areal parts of Scrophularia striata against malaria vector Anopheles stephensi. J Arthropod-Borne Dis. 2018; 12(2): 119-126.
[13] Saeidnia S, Gohari A. Pharmacognosy and molecular pharmacognosy in practice: a laboratory desk references of pharmacognosy for researchers and students. Saarbrucken: Lambert academic publishing, 2012.
[14] Golfakhrabadi F, Yousefbeyk F, Mirnezami T, Laghaei P, Hajimahmoodi M, Khanavi M. Antioxidant and antiacetylcholinesterase activity of Teucrium hyrcanicum. Pharmacogn Res. 2015; 7(S1): 15-19.
[15] Yousefbeyk F, Gohari AR, Hashemighahderijani Z, Ostad SN, Sourmaghi MHS, Amini M, Golfakhrabadi F, Jamalifar H, Amin G. Bioactive terpenoids and flavonoids from Daucus littoralis Smith subsp. hyrcanicus Rech. f, an endemic species of Iran. Daru J Pharm Sci. 2014; 22(1): 12-17.
[16] Yousefbeyk F, Gohari AR, Sourmaghi MHS, Amini M, Jamalifar H, Amin M, Golfakhrabadi F, Ramezani N, Amin G. Chemical composition and antimicrobial activity of essential oils from different parts of Daucus littoralis Smith subsp. hyrcanicus Rech. f. J Essent Oil Bear Pl. 2014; 17(4): 570-576.
[17] Felhi S, Daoud A, Hajlaoui H, Mnafgui K, Gharsallah N, Kadri A. Solvent extraction effects on phytochemical constituents profiles, antioxidant and antimicrobial activities and functional group analysis of Ecballium elaterium seeds and peels fruits. J Food Sci Technol. 2017; 37(3): 483-492.
[18] Koca U, Ozcelik B, Ozgen S. Comparative in vitro activity of medicinal plants Arnebia densiflora and Ecballium elaterium aginst isolated strains of Klebsiella pneumonia. Turkish J Pharma Sci. 2010; 7(3): 197-204.
[19] Kumar S, Yadav M, Yadav A, Yadav J. Impact of spatial and climatic conditions on phytochemical diversity and in vitro antioxidant activity of Indian Aloe vera (L.) Burm. f. South Afr J Bot. 2017; 111: 50-59.
[20] Khattak KF. Effect of geographical distributions on the nutrient composition, phytochemical profile and antioxidant activity of Morus nigra. Pak J Pharm Sci. 2015; 28(5): 1671-1678.
[21] Shama SN. Phytochemical screening and antioxidant activity of Dillenia bracteata. Int J Green Pharm. 2019; 13(2): 126-132.
[22] Gomes CA, Girão da Cruz T, Andrade JL, Milhazes N, Borges F, Marques MPM. Anticancer activity of phenolic acids of natural or synthetic origin: a structure-activity study. J Med Chem. 2003; 46(25): 5395-5401.
[23] Nakamura Y, Torikai K, Ohto Y, Murakami A, Tanaka T, Ohigashi H. A simple phenolic antioxidant protocatechuic acid enhances tumor promotion and oxidative stress in female ICR mouse skin: dose-and timing-dependent enhancement and involvement of bioactivation by tyrosinase. Carcinogenesis. 2000; 21(10): 1899-1907.
[24] Sakihama Y, Cohen MF, Grace SC, Yamasaki H. Plant phenolic antioxidant and prooxidant activities: phenolics-induced oxidative damage mediated by metals in plants. Toxicol.  2002; 177(1): 67-80.
[25] Sergediene E, Jönsson K, Szymusiak H, Tyrakowska B, Rietjens I, Cenas N. Prooxidant toxicity of polyphenolic antioxidants to HL‐60 cells: description of quantitative structure-activity relationships. FEBS Lett. 1999; 462(3): 392-396.
[26] Ferrazzano GF, Amato I, Ingenito A, Zarrelli A, Pinto G, Pollio A. Plant polyphenols and their anti-cariogenic properties: a review. Molecules. 2011; 16(2): 1486-1507.
[27] Wakimoto N, Yin D, O’Kelly J, Haritunians T, Karlan B, Said J, Xing H, Koeffler HP. Cucurbitacin B has a potent antiproliferative effect on breast cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. Cancer Sci. 2008; 99(9): 1793-1797.
[28] Attard E, Cuschieri A. Cytotoxicity of cucurbitacin E extracted from Ecballium elaterium in vitro. J Nat Remedies. 2004; 4(2): 137-144.
[29] Attard E, Cuschieri A, Brincat MP. Morphological effects induced by cucurbitacin E on ovarian cancer cells in vitro. J Nat Remedies. 2005; 5(1): 70-74.