Aim of the study: The present work intended to study the antitumoral and antioxidant effects of Uncaria tomentosa (UT) hydroalcoholic extract in the Walker-256 cancer model.
Methods and materials: Walker-256 cells were subcutaneously inoculated in the pelvic limb of male Wistar rats. Daily gavage with UT extract (10, 50 or 100 mg kg−1, Groups UT) or saline solution (Control, Group C) was subsequently initiated, until 14 days afterwards. For some parameters, a group of healthy rats (Baseline, Group B) was added. At the end of treatment the following parameters were evaluated: (a) tumor volume and mass; (b) plasmatic concentration of urea, alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH); (c) hepatic and tumoral activity of catalase (CAT) and superoxide dismutase (SOD), as well as the rate of lipid peroxidation (LPO) and gluthatione (GSH); and (d) hepatic glutathione-S-transferase (GST) activity. The reactivity of UT extract with the stable free radical 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) was assessed in parallel.
Results: UT hydroalcoholic extract successfully reduced the tumor growth. In addition, treatment with UT reduced the activity of AST, which had been increased as a result of tumor inoculation, thus attempting to return it to normal levels. UT did not reverse the increase of LDH and GGT plasma levels, although all doses were remarkably effective in reducing urea plasma levels. An important in vitro free radical-scavenging activity was detected at various concentrations of UT extract (1–300 g mL−1). Treatment also resulted in increased CAT activity in liver, while decreasing it in tumor tissue. SOD activity was reduced in liver as well as in tumor, compared to Group C. No statistical significance concerning ALT, GST, LPO or GSH were observed.
Conclusions: This data represent an in vivo demonstration of both antitumoral and antioxidant effects of UT hydroalcoholic extract. The antineoplastic activity may result, partially at least, from the ability of UT to regulate redox and metabolism homeostasis.