The essential oil extracted by hydrodistillation from the flowering twigs of Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni (Asteraceae) was fractioned by chromatography. Forty-three constituents were characterized with the help of GC, GC-MS and other spectroscopic techniques. The essential oil was found to be a complex mixture of mono- and sesqui-terpenes. The cytotoxicity of the essential oil and its fractions was evaluated by sulforhodamine B (SRB) based assay against two cancer cell types viz. C-6 (rat glioma cells) and CHOK1 (Chinese hamster ovary cells). The essential oil and its fractions showed promising cytotoxicity against both cell lines. The highest activity (95.6+/-0.6%) was show by the essential oil on the C-6 cell line at a concentration of 400 microg/mL, which was comparable with that of the standard drug vinblastin.
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