Background. Aiming the continuity of the studies of Austroplenckia populnea, Brazilian species of the Celastraceae family, in the present study was investigated the effect of crude extracts obtained with ethanol, ethyl acetate and chloroform and two purified constituents, proanthocyanidin A and 4-O-methylepigallocatechin, both isolated from its samaras, on cancer cell proliferation assays. Material and methods. The human cancer cells lines MCF-7 (ductal breast carcinoma), A549 (lung cancer), HS578T (ductal breast carcinoma) and non-cancer HEK293 (embryonic kidney cells) were treated with different concentration of extracts and constituents and the effect was observed through acid phosphatase method. The chemical structures of the purified compounds were identified by the respective IR and 1H and 13C NMR spectral data. Results. While crude extracts from samaras of the folk medicine A. populnea can trigger cell proliferative effects in human cell lines, the purified compounds (Proanthocyanidin A and 4-O-methyl-epigallocatechin) isolated from the same extracts can have an opposite (anti-proliferative) effect. Conclusion. Based on the results was possible to suggest that extracts from samaras of A. populnea should be investigated further for possible cancer-promoting activities; such extracts can also represent a source of compounds that have anti-cancer properties.
Key words: Austroplenckia populnea, Celastraceae, Samaras, Cancer cell proliferation.