Main content area

Anthelmintic screening of Sub-Saharan African plants used in traditional medicine

Waterman, Carrie, Smith, Robert A., Pontiggia, Laura, DerMarderosian, Ara
Journal of ethnopharmacology 2010 v.127 no.3 pp. 755-759
traditional medicine, levamisole, interspecific variation, mechanism of action, dose response, medicinal plants, plant extracts, bioassays, gastrointestinal nematodes, dosage, Caenorhabditis elegans, drug resistance, Sub-Saharan Africa
Aim of study: This study screened for anthelmintic activity of plant species traditionally used in the treatment of intestinal parasites and their symptoms in Sub-Saharan Africa in an effort to confirm their local use and aid in the search for new compounds since resistance is a growing concern. Materials and methods: Aqueous and organic extracts of 33 plant parts from 17 plant species traditionally used in the treatment of intestinal infections in Sub-Saharan Africa were evaluated for their anthelmintic activity. This activity was assessed using a standard motility assay against a levamisole resistant strain of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Results and conclusions: Anthelmintic activity was confirmed in 12 plant species. Of these, eight showed strong evidence of activity (p <0.0001), one exhibited moderate evidence of activity (p <0.001), three demonstrated weak evidence of activity (p <0.05), and five plants showed no evidence of activity. The eight species with the strongest evidence of activity were Acacia polyacantha, Anogeissus leiocarpus, Bridelia micrantha, Cassia sieberiana, Combretum nigricans, Grewia bicolor, Strychnos spinosa and Ziziphus mucronata. In only two cases, Anogeissus leiocarpus and Cassia sieberiana, anthelmintic activity has been previously confirmed. The activity demonstrated against the levamisole resistant strain of Caenorhabditis elegans and the presence of molecules in these plants known or suspected of having a broad spectrum of activity provide support for further study of these plants and their compounds as possible treatments for parasitic worm infections.