Scientific reports 2018 03 288(1) 5309 doi 10.1038/s41598-018-23704-9
The discovery of bioactive compounds from natural sources entails an extremely lengthy process due to the timescale and complexity of traditional methodologies. In our study, we used a rapid NMR based metabolomic approach as tool to identify secondary metabolites with anti-proliferative activity against a panel of human colorectal cancer cell lines with different mutation profiles. For this purpose, fourteen Fabaceae species of Mediterranean vegetation were investigated using a double screening method:H NMR profiling enabled the identification of the main compounds present in the mixtures, whilst parallel biological assays allowed the selection of two plant extracts based on their strong anti-proliferative properties. Using high-resolution 2D NMR spectroscopy, putative active constituents were identified in the mixture and isolated by performing a bio-guided fractionation of the selected plant extracts. As a result, we found two active principles: a cycloartane glycoside and protodioscin derivative. Interestingly, these metabolites displayed a preferential anti-proliferative effect on colon cancer cell lines with an intrinsic resistance to anti-EGFR therapies. Our work provides an NMR-based metabolomic approach as a powerful and efficient tool to discover natural products with anticancer activities circumventing time-consuming procedures.