BACKGROUND Arctium lappa, known as burdock, is widely used in popular medicine for hypertension, gout, hepatitis and other inflammatory disorders. Pharmacological studies indicated that burdock roots have hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory, free radical scavenging and antiproliferative activities. The aim of this study was to evaluate total phenolic content, radical scavenging activity by DPPH and in vitro antiproliferative activity of different A. lappa root extracts. METHODS Hot and room temperature dichloromethanic, ethanolic and aqueous extracts; hydroethanolic and total aqueous extract of A. lappa roots were investigated regarding radical scavenging activity by DPPH, total phenolic content by Folin-Ciocalteau method and antiproliferative in vitro activity was evaluated in human cancer cell lines. The hydroethanolic extract analyzed by high-resolution electrospray ionization mass spectroscopy. RESULTS Higher radical scavenging activity was found for the hydroethanolic extract. The higher phenolic contents were found for the dichloromethane, obtained both by Soxhlet and maceration extraction and hydroethanolic extracts. The HRESI-MS demonstrated the presence of arctigenin, quercetin, chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid compounds, which were identified by comparison with previous data. The dichloromethane extracts were the only extracts that exhibited activity against cancer cell lines, especially for K562, MCF-7 and 786-0 cell lines. CONCLUSIONS The hydroethanolic extracts exhibited the strongest free radical scavenging activity, while the highest phenolic content was observed in Soxhlet extraction. Moreover, the dichloromethanic extracts showed selective antiproliferative activity against K562, MCF-7 and 786-0 human cancer cell lines.
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