During a recent botanical expedition in the Seychelles archipelago we identified healers using Diospyros seychellarum as a tonic. Since this plant lacks any medicinal record in the current literature, we assessed the cytotoxic potential of D. seychellarum. Using Jurkat cells as a model system we show, by flow cytometry, that treatment with the leaf extract results in mitochondrial depolarization and subsequent loss of cellular membrane integrity. Additionally, by transmission electron microscopy, we show that treatment with the extract results in chromatin condensation, mitochondrial swelling, and loss of nuclear membrane integrity. Through these morphological and biochemical observations we concluded that the extract of Diospyros seychellarum is able to induce apoptosis. While it is difficult to extrapolate a potential pharmacologic function based on the ethnomedical use as a tonic, the ability of this extract to induce apoptosis warrants further investigation of the medicinal properties of this plant.
- Cell death
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