It has also been claimed to have potential anti-cancer properties in vivo in mice chronically fed liver carcinogens, p-dimethylamino azobenzene (initiator) and phenobarbital (promoter). Incidentally, crude ethanolic extract of Lycopodium clavatum is a mixture of some 201 alkaloids.
In order to ascertain if any major fraction can be attributed to have pronounced anti-cancer effect, we examined this major fraction by eluting the crude extract in petroleum ether:ethyl aetate (17:3 vol/vol;) solvent and tried to understand its underlying mechanism.
Studies on morphological changes, cell viability and cytotoxicity by microscopy and FACS, Western blot and immunofluorescence of Bcl-2, Bax, cytochrome c, caspase-3 were conducted.
Lycopodine was found to induce chromatin condensation, inter-nucleosomal DNA fragmentation and enhanced cell population in sub-G1 region along with increase in reactive oxygen species generation and mitochondrial membrane potential depolarization, release of cytochrome c and activation of caspase-3 which are the events closely involved in apoptosis.
An overall analysis of results showed that Lycopodine considerably inhibited growth of HeLa cells which indicates its potential use in chemotherapy.