Cyrtomium fortumei (J.) Smith is an important Chinese herbal medicine because of its biological functions. However, systematic and comprehensive studies on the phytochemicals from Cyrtomium fortumei (J.) Smith and their bioactivity are limited.
Using the bioassay-guided technique, the ethyl acetate and n-BuOH extracts of the rhizomes of Cyrtomium fortumei (J.) Smith were shown to exhibit good antitumor activities, consequently leading to the isolation of 23 compounds. All compounds were isolated from the plant for the first time. The inhibitory activities of these compounds were investigated on tumor cells MGC-803, PC3, and A375 in vitro by MTT (thiazolyl blue tetrazolium bromide) assay, and the results showed that pimpinellin (3) had potent cytotoxic activities against the three cell lines, with the IC 50 values of 14.4 ± 0.3 μM, 20.4 ± 0.5 μM, and 29.2 ± 0.6 μM, respectively. The mechanism of the antitumor action indicated that pimpinellin inhibited the growth of MGC-803 cells via the induction of tumor cell apoptosis, with apoptosis ratio of 27.44% after 72 h of treatment at 20 μM.