Extracts from natural plants have been used in traditional medicine for many centuries worldwide. Artocarpus communis is one such plant that has been used to treat liver cirrhosis, hypertension, and diabetes. To our knowledge, this study is the first to investigate the antihepatoma activity of A. communis toward HepG2 and PLC/PRF/5 cells and the first to explore the relationship between antihepatoma activity and the active compound artocarpin content in different fractions of A. communis. A. communis methanol extract and fractions induced dose-dependent reduction of tumor cell viability. DNA laddering analysis revealed that A. communis extract and fractions did not induce apoptosis in HepG2 and PLC/PRF/5 cells. Instead, acridine orange staining revealed that A. communis triggered autophagic cell death in a dose-dependent manner. The antihepatoma activity of A. communis is attributable to artocarpin. The fractions with the highest artocarpin content were also the fractions with the highest antihepatoma activity in the following order: dichloromethane fraction > methanol extract > ethyl acetate fraction > n-butanol fraction > n-hexane fraction. Taken together, A. communis showed antihepatoma activity through autophagic cell death. The effect was related to artocarpin content. Artocarpin could be considered an indicator of the anticancer potential of A. communis extract.
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