Effect of yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis) tea on topoisomerase inhibition and oral carcinoma cell proliferation

Elvira Gonzalez De Mejia, Soo Song Young, Marco Vinicio Ramirez-Mares, Hideka Kobayashi

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Tea flavonoids have antitopoisomerase activity and can inhibit cell proliferation. The objectives of this study were to determine the phenolic content of yerba mate tea products (MT) (Ilex paraguariensis) and evaluate their capacity to inhibit topoisomerase I (Topo I) and II (Topo II) activities and oral carcinoma cell proliferation. Total polyphenols of aqueous extracts of dried MT leaves were measured by the Folin-Ciocalteau assay, using chlorogenic (CH) and gallic (GA) acids as standards. Topoisomerase inhibition was determined by a clone-forming assay, which uses yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) strains as a model. Controls included dimethyl sulfoxide (1.66%); camptothecin (50 μg/mL), a Topo I inhibitor; and amsacrine (100 μg/mL), a Topo II inhibitor. Cytotoxicity studies were conducted using a nontumorigenic human keratinocyte cell line HaCaT and two human squamous cancer cell lines (SCC-61 and OSCC-3). MT was found to be a rich source of phenolic compounds. Total polyphenol content of various commercially available traditional MT products ranged from 236 to 490 mg equiv of CH/g of dry leaves. Such levels were significantly different among products depending on their origin (P < 0.001). Higher anti-topoisomerase II activity was observed against JN394t2-4 strain for Nobleza Gaucha MT (IC50 = 0.43 μg equiv of CH) in comparison to GA (IC50 = 112 mM) and CH (IC50 > 1500 mM). MT showed catalytic anti-topoisomerase activity against Topo II but not against Topo I. In addititon, MT exhibited dose-dependent cytotoxicity against all squamous cell lines tested. In comparison to premalignant cell line HaCaT [28 μg equiv of (+)-catechin mL-1], the cell line SCC-61 [21 μg equiv of (+)-catechin mL-1] was the most sensitive to MT, resulting in 50% inhibition of net cell growth. It is concluded that MT is rich in phenolic constituents and can also inhibit oral cancer proliferation. The effect on cancer cell proliferation may be mediated via inhibition of topoisomerase II. The lack of correlation between polyphenol content and the inhibition of topoisomerases suggests that the effect of MT on topoisomerase inhibition may be due to other still unidentified biologically active phytochemicals constituents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1966-1973
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 23 2005


  • Chlorogenic acid
  • Gallic acid
  • Mate tea
  • Polyphenol
  • Topoisomerase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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