Pre-Clinical Screening of Turmeric and Lemongrass Extracts against Human Hodgkin Lymphoma Cells

Submitter and Co-author information

Emily G. Kogel, University of WindsorFollow

Type of Proposal

Oral presentation

Streaming Media


Faculty of Science

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Siyaram Pandey

Start Date

24-3-2015 2:00 PM

End Date

24-3-2015 2:50 PM

Importance of the Project

Current cancer treatment often incorporates the use of chemotherapeutic drugs. These drugs cause death in cancerous cells, but unfortunately damage normal cells as well, leading to numerous dangerous side effects such as pain, fatigue, allergic reactions, secondary cancers, and even death. Not only does chemotherapy result in damaging side effects, but it comes at a large cost. Chemotherapy drugs are expensive to produce and administer. The financial burden of chemotherapy treatment prevents some patients from receiving the amount or type of drug necessary to treat their cancer. Even though chemotherapy is government-subsidized in Ontario, lower cost associated with chemotherapy treatment would result in less financial stress for patients and their families, as well as more funding available to be used elsewhere in the healthcare system. Therefore, it would be advantageous for both the healthcare system and the patients themselves to have a less toxic, more cost-effective drug. This project demonstrates that the natural health products, turmeric and lemongrass extracts, may have exactly that potential. If these extracts effectively reduce the viability of cancer cells while leaving normal cells untouched, then they may be instrumental in producing new cancer therapy drugs that are overall more efficacious and cost-effective, thus greatly improving the quality of life for cancer patients.

Existing State of Knowledge

More than 75% of current anti-cancer agents are derived from some form of natural product. Paclitaxel (also known by its trade name, Taxol), for example, is derived from the bark of the Pacific yew tree and widely used to treat breast, lung, and ovarian cancer, as well as Kaposi’s sarcoma. Lemongrass has been shown through recent research to have anti-proliferative activity in the cells of human colon, breast, and ovarian cancers through the activation of an intrinsic apoptosis mechanism. Our research is an extension of what is currently known about the anti-cancer properties of lemongrass, using different modes of extraction in Hodgkin lymphoma.

Research Question

Does the anti-proliferative property of turmeric and lemongrass extracts in human colon, breast, and ovarian cancer cells translate to Hodgkin lymphoma cells, and if it does, is the mechanism of action selective?


Turmeric and lemongrass are extracted in three ways: hot water, cold water, and ethanol extractions. Individual extracts are then tested for their ability to reduce the metabolic activity of lymphoma cells in a dose and time dependent manner by a WST-1 cell viability assay.

Viable cells still able to actively metabolize after treatment are able to convert the WST-1 dye into a formazan product. This product is detected through absorbance spectrometry, where a high absorbance corresponds to a high percentage of viable cells and a low absorbance corresponds to a low percentage of viable cells.

Following the WST-1 assay, fluorescence microscopy and image-based cytometry will be employed to determine the mode of programmed cell death (PCD) induced by lemon grass treatment in lymphoma cells. Annexin-V will be used to detect the induction of apoptosis, propidium iodide for necrosis and monodansylcadaverine staining will be used to assess the induction of autophagic degradation.

Following identification of the mode of PCD induced by lemon grass treatment, fluorescence microscopy, image-based cytometry and western blotting analysis will be employed to determine the chronology of biochemical events that occur following treatment, leading up to the induction of PCD. The results from these findings will determine if either of these natural health products can be beneficial as a safer alternative to currently available chemotherapy for the treatment of Hodgkin lymphoma.

Your Findings

This project has demonstrated that both turmeric and lemongrass extracts are able to reduce the metabolic activity of KM-H2 cells in a time and dose dependent manner, as measured by cellular viability. Further study is required to determine whether or not the reduction in cell viability translates to an induction of programmed cell death, and whether or not this drug is selective. Furthermore it is necessary to determine the method of action by which apoptosis is induced and identify the pharmacologically active component of the extract. If either turmeric or lemongrass proves to be both safe and efficacious through the duration of the pre-clinical screening, they may improve current chemotherapy treatment options for Hodgkin lymphoma.


Mar 24th, 2:00 PM Mar 24th, 2:50 PM

Pre-Clinical Screening of Turmeric and Lemongrass Extracts against Human Hodgkin Lymphoma Cells