Ficus sycomorous (Family Moraceae) is a plant used in African traditional medicine to treat mental illness, dysentery, cough, diarrhea, tuberculosis and cancer. The aim of this research work is to isolate and characterize some compounds from the leaf of Ficus sycomorous and to screen the plant for anti-cancer activity. The dichloromethane (DCM) and methanol extracts were subjected to preliminary phytochemical screening using standard procedure; qualitative and quantitative antioxidant activity studies using 1, 1- diphenyl-2-picryl hydrazyl (DPPH). Flash column chromatography, column chromatography (using silica gel of mesh size 60-120), Gel filtration chromatography (using sephadex LH-20) and preparative thin layer chromatography were employed in the isolation of compounds from the DCM and methanol extracts. The two extracts were screened for anti-cancer activity using commercial absorbance assay (CellTiter 96®AQueousOne Solution Cell Proliferation Assay, Promega Corp, Madison, WI) on melanoma cancer cells )MDA-MB-435), human breast cancer cells (MDA-MB-231), human ovarian cancer cells (OVCAR3) and human colon cancer cells (HT-29). The results of phytochemical screening showed that DCM extract of Ficus sycomorus leaves contains terpenoids, alkaloids and cardiac glycosides but the methanol extract contains alkaloids, flavonoids, tannins, saponins, cardiac glycosides and terpenoids but coumarins and anthraquinones were found to be absent. A total of fifteen compounds were isolated in this study, of which two were new from plants origin. Squalene (A1), squalenol (A2), lupeol (A3), lupeol acetate (A4), beta amarinacetate (A5), sitosterol (A6), sitosterol-3-O-β-D-glucopyranoside (A7), α-tocopherylquinone (A8), were isolated from the DCM extract while blumenol A (A9), (6R,9R)-6,9-dihydroxy-4,7-megastimadiene-3-one (A10), (+)-ecatechin (A11), kaempferol (A12), kaempferol-3-O-α-L-rhamnoside (A13), quarcetin-3-O-β-D-glucopyranoside (A14) and phaophytin A (A15) were isolated from the methanol extract. The structures of these compounds were determined using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, electronic circular dichroism and optical rotation measurements. Some of the isolated compounds were screened for anticancer activity using the same method as the extracts. The results of the antioxidant activity studies revealed that the DCM and methanol extracts had IC50 (the ability to quench 50% of the free radicals) of 42.83 μg/ml and 34.00 respectively. These results were analyzed statistically using the student‟s t-test and were compared with that of Vitamin C used as standard drug. The plant exhibited significant antioxidant and anti-cancer activities which could be attributed to some of the phytochemicals present in the plants. Hence, it could be useful in diseases involving oxidative stress such cancer, aging, stroke rheumatoid arthritis and heart diseases.
PHYTOCHEMICAL INVESTIGATIONS AND ANTICANCER ACTIVITY STUDIES ON THE LEAVES OF FICUS SYCOMORUS LIN. (FAMILY: MORACEAE)