Taxus globosa Schltdl. (Mexican yew) and Taxus baccata L. (European yew): intra and interspecies analysis of taxol content and biological activity according to different sources

Lidia Osuna-Torres, Xavier García-Martí, Elsa Ventura-Zapata, Javier López-Upton, Alejandro Zamilpa-Alvarez, Manases González-Cortázar, Maribel Herrera-Ruiz, Nadia Tapia-Barrera


Aim of study: Taxus globosa is the only species of Taxus genus that grows in Mexico, and is a tree which is protected by the Mexican Government. This plant shares, with the European species T. baccata, the ability to produce taxanes, such as taxol. The objective of this work was to compare representative samples from two Taxus species: T. globosa Schltdl. (“Mexican yew”), and T.  baccata L. (“European yew”), by employing different methodological chemical and pharmacological tests.

Area of study: Representative samples of Mexican yew were collected from states of Nuevo León, Querétaro, Hidalgo, and Oaxaca. The samples of European yew were taken from a clonal live collection located in the CIEF-Vaersa-Valencia (Spain).

Materials and Methods: The aerial parts of all samples were extracted with methanol and subjected to TLC and HPLC analysis. Five extracts were selected for their anti-inflammatory evaluation. The extracts were tested on male ICR mice with ear inflammation induced with TPA, at a dose of 3.2 mg/ear. For T. globosa, an acute toxicity assay in female mice, according to OECD, was also conducted.

Main results: Taxol was only detected in the yew trees samples collected in States of Hidalgo and Nuevo León (Mexico). In the inflammatory assay, in all treatments (except for that of MX35) induced slight, but significant, inhibition of inflammation, and only European sample M-9 showed inhibition of edema of >50%. T. globosa in the acute toxicity test causes only mild symptoms associated with a general depression of CNS, without being lethal.

Research highlights: The aim of the present study was to perform a chemical analysis through quantification of taxol in the Mexican yew compared to European yew. In this research work was evaluated too for the first time the anti-inflammatory effect from both the Mexican and European yew.

Keywords: Acute toxicity; anti-inflammatory activity; European yew; HPLC; Mexican yew. 

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DOI: 10.5424/fs/2015243-07545