Background: Vernonia divaricata is one of five endemic Vernonia species of Jamaica. The ethno-medicinal uses of other species have been established, however, scientific validation of this species has not yet been done and as such this paper is aimed at identifying the anti-cancer activity of V divaricata against leukaemia, breast and prostate cancer cell lines.
Methods: Leaves and stems of V divaricata were dried and milled into powder. The crude hexane and methanol extracts of the leaves and stems were obtained and bio-assayed using WST-1 cell proliferation assay against leukaemia, breast and prostate cancer cell lines.
Results: The crude hexane and methanol extracts of V divaricata were able to significantly retard the growth of the MCF-7 (breast), HL-60 (leukaemia) and the PC-3 (prostate) cancer cell lines. The crude methanol extract of the stem was the strongest, exhibiting anti-proliferation activity with IC50 values of 10.14, 12.63 and 9.894 µg/ml for the HL-60, MCF-7 and PC-3 cancer cell lines, respectively, with the most potent toward prostate cancer.
Conclusion: The medicinal use of V divaricata as an anti-cancer agent was corroborated as the crude hexane extract and methanol extracts demonstrated potent anti-proliferation activity and as such hold potential for further research and development into a drug to prevent or treat various cancers.