Effects of Maerua subcordata (Gilg) DeWolf on electrophile-responsive element (EpRE)mediated gene expression in vitro

Mebrahtom Gebrelibanos Hiben*, Laura De Haan, Bert Spenkelink, Sebas Wesseling, Jochem Louisse, Jacques Vervoort, Ivonne M.C.M. Rietjens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Plant extracts and phytochemicals may prevent chronic diseases via activation of adaptive cellular stress response pathways including induction of antioxidant and phase II detoxifying enzymes. The regulatory regions of these inducible genes encode the electrophile-response element (EpRE). This study tested the EpRE induction ability of Maerua subcordata (fruit, leaf, root, seed) methanol extracts and selected candidate constituents thereof, identified by liquid chromatography coupled with multistage mass spectroscopy, employing an EpRE luciferase reporter gene assay using hepa-1c1c7 mouse hepatoma cells. A parallel Cytotox CALUX assay using human osteosarcoma U2OS cells was used to monitor any non-specific changes in luciferase activity or cytotoxicity. Results showed that fruit, root, and seed extracts were non-cytotoxic up to a concentration of 30 gram dry weight per litre but the leaf extract exhibited some cytotoxicity and that the leaf (despite some cytotoxicity), fruit, and seed extracts showed strong induction of EpRE mediated gene expression while induction by the root extract was minimal. Selected candidates included glucosinolates, isothiocyanates, and some biogenic amines. Subsequent studies showed that methyl-, ethyl-, isopro-pyl-, isobutyl- isothiocyanates, and sec-butyl thiocyanate as well as glucobrassicin induced concentration (1–100 μM) dependent EpRE-mediated gene expression while the biogenic amines stachydrine and trigonelline acted as inhibitors of EpRE-mediated gene expression at 100 μM. The identification of glucolepidiin, glucobrassicin, glucocapparin, stachydrine, and trigonelline in all extracts was confirmed using standards and based on multiple reaction monitoring; yet, glucobrassicin level in the root extract was negligible. In conclusion, this study provided a first report on EpRE mediated gene expression effects of M. subcordata; and despite detection of different glucosinolates in all extracts, those containing glucobrassicin particularly displayed high EpRE induction. Because EpRE inducers are cytoprotective and potential chemopreventive agents while inhibitors are suggested adjuvants of chemotherapy, results of this study imply that process manipulation of this plant may result in herbal preparations that may be used as chemopreventive agents or adjuvants of chemotherapies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0215155
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


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