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The cytotoxic activity of extract and isolated saponin from leaves of Agave lechuguilla was investigated. Ethanol extract from leaves of A. lechuguilla exhibited cytotoxic activity against HeLa cells in vitro (50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) = 89 μg/ml). Bioassay-guided fractionation of this extract had led to the isolation of 5-β steroidal saponin with an IC50 value against HeLa cells of 78 μg/ml. Neither the extract nor saponin showed significant cytotoxicity against MCF-7 cells (IC50 > 150 μg/ml). The extract and isolated saponins were tested for their cytotoxicity against Vero cells, where they showed IC50 values of 126, 171.6 and 172.2 μg/ml, respectively.
Key words: Agave lechuguilla, cytotoxicity, plant extract, saponin.