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1.  Bioassay-guided discovery of antibacterial agents: in vitro screening of Peperomia vulcanica, Peperomia fernandopoioana and Scleria striatinux 
The global burden of bacterial infections is high and has been further aggravated by increasing resistance to antibiotics. In the search for novel antibacterials, three medicinal plants: Peperomia vulcanica, Peperomia fernandopoioana (Piperaceae) and Scleria striatinux (Cyperaceae), were investigated for antibacterial activity and toxicity.
Crude extracts of these plants were tested by the disc diffusion method against six bacterial test organisms followed by bio-assay guided fractionation, isolation and testing of pure compounds. The minimum inhibitory (MIC) and minimum bactericidal (MBC) concentrations were measured by the microdilution method. The acute toxicity of the active extracts and cytotoxicity of the active compound were performed in mice and mammalian cells, respectively.
The diameter of the zones of inhibition (DZI) of the extracts ranged from 7–13 mm on Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus of which the methylene chloride:methanol [1:1] extract of Scleria striatinux recorded the highest activity (DZI = 13 mm). Twenty-nine pure compounds were screened and one, Okundoperoxide, isolated from S. striatinux, recorded a DZI ranging from 10–19 mm on S. aureus. The MICs and MBCs indicated that the Peperomias had broad-spectrum bacteriostatic activity. Toxicity tests showed that Okundoperoxide may have a low risk of toxicity with an LC50 of 46.88 μg/mL.
The antibacterial activity of these plants supports their use in traditional medicine. The pure compound, Okundoperoxide, may yield new antibacterial lead compounds following medicinal chemistry exploration.
PMCID: PMC3403929  PMID: 22549052
Resistance; Medicinal plants; Antibacterial compound; Toxicity
2.  Accumulation of artemisinin trioxane derivatives within neutral lipids of Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasites is endoperoxide-dependent 
Biochemical pharmacology  2008;77(3):322-336.
The antimalarial trioxanes, exemplified by the naturally occurring sesquiterpene lactone artemisinin and its semi-synthetic derivatives, contain an endoperoxide pharmacophore that lends tremendous potency against Plasmodium parasites. Despite decades of research, their mechanism of action remains unresolved. A leading model of anti-plasmodial activity hypothesizes that iron-mediated cleavage of the endoperoxide bridge generates cytotoxic drug metabolites capable of damaging cellular macromolecules. To probe the malarial targets of the endoperoxide drugs, we studied the distribution of fluorescent dansyl trioxane derivatives in living, intraerythrocytic-stage P. falciparum parasites using microscopic imaging. The fluorescent trioxanes rapidly accumulated in parasitized erythrocytes, localizing within digestive vacuole-associated neutral lipid bodies of trophozoites and schizonts, and surrounding the developing merozoite membranes. Artemisinin pre-treatment significantly reduced fluorescent labeling of neutral lipid bodies, while iron chelation increased non-specific cytoplasmic localization. To further explore the effects of endoperoxides on cellular lipids, we used an oxidation-sensitive BODIPY lipid probe to show the presence of artemisinin-induced peroxyl radicals in parasite membranes. Lipid extracts from artemisinin-exposed parasites contained increased amounts of free fatty acids and a novel cholesteryl ester. The cellular accumulation patterns and effects on lipids were entirely endoperoxide-dependent, as inactive dioxolane analogs lacking the endoperoxide moiety failed to label neutral lipid bodies or induce oxidative membrane damage. In the parasite digestive vacuole, neutral lipids closely associate with heme and promote hemozoin formation. We propose that the trioxane artemisinin and its derivatives are activated by heme-iron within the neutral lipid environment where they initiate oxidation reactions that damage parasite membranes.
PMCID: PMC2659783  PMID: 19022224
digestive vacuole; heme; reactive oxygen species; lipid peroxidation; free radicals
3.  Effect of selected local medicinal plants on the asexual blood stage of chloroquine resistant Plasmodium falciparum 
The development of resistant to current antimalarial drugs is a major challenge in achieving malaria elimination status in many countries. Therefore there is a need for new antimalarial drugs. Medicinal plants have always been the major source for the search of new antimalarial drugs. The aim of this study was to screen selected Malaysian medicinal plants for their antiplasmodial properties.
Each part of the plants were processed, defatted by hexane and sequentially extracted with dichloromethane, methanol and water. The antiplasmodial activities of 54 plant extracts from 14 species were determined by Plasmodium falciparum Histidine Rich Protein II ELISA technique. In order to determine the selectivity index (SI), all plant extracts demonstrating a good antiplasmodial activity were tested for their cytotoxicity activity against normal Madin-Darby Bovine Kidney (MDBK) cell lines by 3-(4, 5-Dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2, 5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay.
Twenty three extracts derived from Curcuma zedoaria (rhizome), Curcuma aeruginosa (rhizome), Alpinia galanga (rhizome), Morinda elliptica (leaf), Curcuma mangga (rhizome), Elephantopus scaber (leaf), Vitex negundo (leaf), Brucea javanica (leaf, root and seed), Annona muricata (leaf), Cinnamomun iners (leaf) and Vernonia amygdalina (leaf) showed promising antiplasmodial activities against the blood stage chloroquine resistant P. falciparum (EC50 < 10 μg/ml) with negligible toxicity effect to MDBK cells in vitro (SI ≥10).
The extracts belonging to eleven plant species were able to perturb the growth of chloroquine resistant P. falciparum effectively. The findings justified the bioassay guided fractionation on these plants for the search of potent antimalarial compounds or formulation of standardized extracts which may enhance the antimalarial effect in vitro and in vivo.
PMCID: PMC4300612  PMID: 25510573
4.  Artemisinin and a Series of Novel Endoperoxide Antimalarials Exert Early Effects on Digestive Vacuole Morphology▿ ‡ 
Artermisinin and its derivatives are now the mainstays of antimalarial treatment; however, their mechanism of action is only poorly understood. We report on the synthesis of a novel series of epoxy-endoperoxides that can be prepared in high yields from simple starting materials. Endoperoxides that are disubstituted with alkyl or benzyl side chains show efficient inhibition of the growth of both chloroquine-sensitive and -resistant strains of Plasmodium falciparum. A trans-epoxide with respect to the peroxide linkage increases the activity compared to that of its cis-epoxy counterpart or the parent endoperoxide. The novel endoperoxides do not show a strong interaction with artemisinin. We have compared the mechanism of action of the novel endoperoxides with that of artemisinin. Electron microscopy reveals that the novel endoperoxides cause the early accumulation of endocytic vesicles, while artemisinin causes the disruption of the digestive vacuole membrane. At longer incubation times artemisinin causes extensive loss of organellar structures, while the novel endoperoxides cause myelin body formation as well as the accumulation of endocytic vesicles. An early event following endoperoxide treatment is the redistribution of the pH-sensitive probe LysoSensor Blue from the digestive vacuole to punctate structures. By contrast, neither artemisinin nor the novel endoperoxides caused alterations in the morphology of the endoplasmic reticulum nor showed antagonistic antimalarial activity when they were used with thapsigargin. Analysis of rhodamine 123 uptake by P. falciparum suggests that disruption of the mitochondrial membrane potential occurs as a downstream effect rather than as an initiator of parasite killing. The data suggest that the digestive vacuole is an important initial site of endoperoxide antimalarial activity.
PMCID: PMC2223901  PMID: 17938190
5.  The Activities of Current Antimalarial Drugs on the Life Cycle Stages of Plasmodium: A Comparative Study with Human and Rodent Parasites 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(2):e1001169.
Michael Delves and colleagues compare the activity of 50 current and experimental antimalarials against liver, sexual blood, and mosquito stages of selected human and nonhuman parasite species, including Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium berghei, and Plasmodium yoelii.
Malaria remains a disease of devastating global impact, killing more than 800,000 people every year—the vast majority being children under the age of 5. While effective therapies are available, if malaria is to be eradicated a broader range of small molecule therapeutics that are able to target the liver and the transmissible sexual stages are required. These new medicines are needed both to meet the challenge of malaria eradication and to circumvent resistance.
Methods and Findings
Little is known about the wider stage-specific activities of current antimalarials that were primarily designed to alleviate symptoms of malaria in the blood stage. To overcome this critical gap, we developed assays to measure activity of antimalarials against all life stages of malaria parasites, using a diverse set of human and nonhuman parasite species, including male gamete production (exflagellation) in Plasmodium falciparum, ookinete development in P. berghei, oocyst development in P. berghei and P. falciparum, and the liver stage of P. yoelii. We then compared 50 current and experimental antimalarials in these assays. We show that endoperoxides such as OZ439, a stable synthetic molecule currently in clinical phase IIa trials, are strong inhibitors of gametocyte maturation/gamete formation and impact sporogony; lumefantrine impairs development in the vector; and NPC-1161B, a new 8-aminoquinoline, inhibits sporogony.
These data enable objective comparisons of the strengths and weaknesses of each chemical class at targeting each stage of the lifecycle. Noting that the activities of many compounds lie within achievable blood concentrations, these results offer an invaluable guide to decisions regarding which drugs to combine in the next-generation of antimalarial drugs. This study might reveal the potential of life-cycle–wide analyses of drugs for other pathogens with complex life cycles.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by the Plasmodium parasite, which is transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes. According to latest global estimates, about 250 million people are infected with malaria every year with roughly 800,000 deaths—most occurring among young children living in Africa. Malaria also causes severe morbidity in children, such as anemia, low birth weight, and neurological problems, which compromise the health and development of millions of children living in malaria endemic areas. In addition to strategies that scale up and roll out the prevention of malaria, such as country-wide programs to provide insecticide-treating bednets, in the goal to eradicate malaria, the global health community has refocused efforts on the treatment of malaria, including finding new compounds that target different stages of the parasite life cycle as it passes from vector to host and back.
The interruption of malaria transmission worldwide is one of the greatest challenges for the global health community. In January 2011, this journal published a series on The Malaria Eradication Research Agenda (malERA), which described a set of research and development priorities, identified key knowledge gaps and the necessary tools needed, and introduced a draft research and development agenda for the worldwide eradication of malaria.
Why Was This Study Done?
Most currently available antimalarial drugs primarily target the disease-causing parasites' stages in the human blood system. But to eradicate malaria, new drugs that block transmission of the parasite between the human host and the mosquito vector, and eliminate the various stages of the parasite during its cycle in the human body, are needed. In this laboratory study, the researchers compared the profiles of all available and experimental antimalarials and analyzed each drug for activity against each specific stage in the malaria parasite's life cycle to provide a reference set of methods and data, that might serve as a benchmark to help guide the malaria research community in assessing the potential of newly discovered antimalarials. Furthermore, this analysis could provide insights into which chemical drug classes might provide transmission-blocking capabilities—an essential component of malaria eradication.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used novel laboratory techniques under standardized conditions to develop a series of novel assays to analyze the activities of 50 antimalarial compounds (current drugs and those under development) against three Plasmodium species encompassing every major cellular strategy of the malarial life cycle including drug resistant parasite strains. In their comparative analysis, the researchers undertook a chemical profiling approach to identify the drugs that block transmission from the host to the mosquito vector and additionally suppress transmission from the mosquito to the human host.
The researchers highlighted some encouraging results; for example, the potencies of some antimalarials against the asexual blood stage of cultivated P. falciparum and P. vivax isolates show a very good correlation, suggesting that most of the pathways inhibited by antimalarials in P. falciparum may also be valid targets in P. vivax. The researchers also have shown that approved drugs, such as pyronaridine and atovaquone, can target liver and sexual stages in addition to asexual blood stages. Furthermore, the researchers found promising results for new compounds currently in clinical trials, such as the endoperoxide OZ439, a stable synthetic molecule currently being studied in a phase IIa clinical trial, which seemed to be a strong inhibitor of gametocyte maturation and gamete formation. The new 8-aminoquinoline, NPC-1161B, also inhibited sporogony.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The results of this analysis provide a valuable guide to help researchers decide which drugs and compounds show most promise as potential future antimalarial drugs for blocking the transmission of malaria. This study could also help researchers make decisions about which molecules could be best combined to provide the next generation of drugs that will succeed artemisinin compound therapy and support the eradication of malaria. Furthermore, this comprehensive approach to drug discovery could be applied to test drugs against other pathogens with complex life cycles.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The malERA a research agenda for malaria eradication sponsored collection, published by PLoS in January 2011, comprises 12 Review articles that discuss agendas in malaria research and development
PMCID: PMC3283556  PMID: 22363211
6.  In vivo antiplasmodial and toxicological effect of Maytenus senegalensis traditionally used in the treatment of malaria in Tanzania 
Malaria Journal  2015;14:79.
In Tanzania and elsewhere, medicinal plants, including Maytenus senegalensis, are still widely used in the treatment of malaria and other ailments. The aim of the present study was to investigate the in vivo antiplasmodial and toxic effects in mice.
Oral antiplasmodial and acute toxicity of the ethanolic root extract of M. senegalensis was evaluated in mice. The Peters 4-day in vivo antiplasmodial effect against early rodent malaria infection in chloroquine-sensitive Plasmodium berghei NK 65 strain in mice.
The M. senegalensis extract was found non-toxic and the oral median lethal dose in mice was determined to be greater than 1,600 mg/kg body weight. The findings revealed a significant (P = 0.001) daily increase in the level of parasitaemia in the parasitized untreated groups and a significant (P < 0.001) dose dependent decrease in parasitaemia in the parasitized groups treated with varying doses ranging from 25 to 100 mg/kg body weight of M. senegalensis extract and the standard drug sulphadoxine/pyrimethamine at 25/1.25 mg/kg body weight. Overall, the dose dependent parasitaemia suppression effects were in the order of: 25/1.25 mg/kg body weight of sulphadoxine/pyrimethamine > 100 mg/kg > 75 mg/kg > 50 mg/kg > 25 mg/kg body weight of M. senegalensis extract.
The implications of these findings is that M. senegalensis ethanolic root bark extract possess potent antiplasmodial effect and may, therefore, serve as potential sources of safe, effective and affordable anti-malarial drugs. The displayed high in vivo antiplasmodial activity and lack of toxic effect render M. senegalensis a candidate for the bioassay-guided isolation of compounds which could develop into new lead structures and candidates for drug development programmes against human malaria.
PMCID: PMC4446455  PMID: 25890324
Maytenus senegalensis; Malaria; Plasmodium berghei; Antiplasmodial; Acute toxicity
7.  Comparative Ex Vivo Activity of Novel Endoperoxides in Multidrug-Resistant Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2012;56(10):5258-5263.
The declining efficacy of artemisinin derivatives against Plasmodium falciparum highlights the urgent need to identify alternative highly potent compounds for the treatment of malaria. In Papua Indonesia, where multidrug resistance has been documented against both P. falciparum and P. vivax malaria, comparative ex vivo antimalarial activity against Plasmodium isolates was assessed for the artemisinin derivatives artesunate (AS) and dihydroartemisinin (DHA), the synthetic peroxides OZ277 and OZ439, the semisynthetic 10-alkylaminoartemisinin derivatives artemisone and artemiside, and the conventional antimalarial drugs chloroquine (CQ), amodiaquine (AQ), and piperaquine (PIP). Ex vivo drug susceptibility was assessed in 46 field isolates (25 P. falciparum and 21 P. vivax). The novel endoperoxide compounds exhibited potent ex vivo activity against both species, but significant differences in intrinsic activity were observed. Compared to AS and its active metabolite DHA, all the novel compounds showed lower or equal 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC50s) in both species (median IC50s between 1.9 and 3.6 nM in P. falciparum and 0.7 and 4.6 nM in P. vivax). The antiplasmodial activity of novel endoperoxides showed different cross-susceptibility patterns in the two Plasmodium species: whereas their ex vivo activity correlated positively with CQ, PIP, AS, and DHA in P. falciparum, the same was not apparent in P. vivax. The current study demonstrates for the first time potent activity of novel endoperoxides against drug-resistant P. vivax. The high activity against drug-resistant strains of both Plasmodium species confirms these compounds to be promising candidates for future artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) regimens in regions of coendemicity.
PMCID: PMC3457353  PMID: 22850522
8.  Antiplasmodial Activity of Aporphine Alkaloids and Sesquiterpene Lactones from Liriodendron tulipifera L 
Journal of ethnopharmacology  2010;133(1):26-30.
Aim of the study
The objective of this study was to isolate and characterize the active constituents of the traditionally used antimalarial plant Liriodendron tulipifera by antiplasmodial-assay guided fractionation.
Materials and methods
Bark and leaves were extracted with solvents of increasing polarity. Fractions were generated using flash chromatography, counter current chromatography and preparative HPLC and subjected to in vitro antiplasmodial and cytotoxicity assays. Active fractions were subjected to further fractionation until pure compounds were isolated, for which the IC50 values were calculated.
Results and discussion
Six known aporphine alkaloids, asimilobine (1), norushinsunine (2), norglaucine (3), liriodenine (4), anonaine (5) and oxoglaucine (6) were found to be responsible for the antiplasmodial activity of the bark. Leaves yielded two known sesquiterpene lactones, peroxyferolide (7) and lipiferolide (8) with antiplasmodial activity. The antiplasmodial activity of (2) (IC50 = 29.6 μg/ml), (3) (IC50 = 22.0 μg/ml), (6) (IC50= 9.1 μg/mL), (7) (IC50 = 6.2 μg/ml) and (8) (IC50 = 1.8 μg/ml) are reported for the first time.
This work supports the historical use of Liriodendron tulipifera as an antimalarial remedy of the United States and characterizes its antiplasmodial constituents.
PMCID: PMC3010440  PMID: 20826204
Antimalarial; Aporphine alkaloids; Sesquiterpene lactones; Liriodendron tulipifera L.; Magnoliaceae; Cytotoxicity
9.  Antiproliferative and antimalarial anthraquinones of Scutia myrtina from the Madagascar forest1 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry  2009;17(7):2871-2876.
Bioassay-guided fractionation of an ethanol extract of a Madagascar collection of the bark of Scutia myrtina led to the isolation of three new anthrone-anthraquinones, scutianthraquinones A, B and C (1-3), one new bisanthrone-anthraquinone, scutianthraquinone D (4), and the known anthraquinone, aloesaponarin I (5). The structures of all compounds were determined using a combination of 1D and 2D NMR experiments, including COSY, HSQC, HMBC, and ROESY sequences, and mass spectrometry. All the isolated compounds were tested against the A2780 human ovarian cancer cell line for antiproliferative activities, and against the chloroquine-resistant Plasmodium falciparum strains Dd2 and FCM29 for antiplasmodial activities. Compounds 1, 2 and 4 showed weak antiproliferative activities against the A2780 ovarian cancer cell line, while compounds 1 – 4 exhibited moderate antiplasmodial activities against P. falciparum Dd2 and compounds 1, 2, and 4 exhibited moderate antiplasmodial activities against P. falciparum FCM29
PMCID: PMC2728447  PMID: 19282186
10.  Antiplasmodial properties of kaempferol-3-O-rhamnoside isolated from the leaves of Schima wallichii against chloroquine-resistant Plasmodium falciparum 
Biomedical Reports  2014;2(4):579-583.
Previous intervention studies have shown that the most effective agents used in the treatment of malaria were isolated from natural sources. Plants consumed by non-human primates serve as potential drug sources for human disease management due to the similarities in anatomy, physiology and disease characteristics. The present study investigated the antiplasmodial properties of the primate-consumed plant, Schima wallichii (S. wallichii) Korth. (family Theaceae), which has already been reported to have several biological activities. The ethanol extract of S. wallichii was fractionated based on polarity using n-hexane, ethyl acetate and water. The antiplasmodial activity was tested in vitro against chloroquine-resistant Plasmodium falciparum (P. falciparum) at 100 μg/ml for 72 h. The major compound of the most active ethyl acetate fraction was subsequently isolated using column chromatography and identified by nuclear magnetic resonance. The characterized compound was also tested against chloroquine-resistant P. falciparum in culture to evaluate its antiplasmodial activity. The ethanol extract of S. wallichii at 100 μg/ml exhibited a significant parasite shrinkage after 24 h of treatment. The ethyl acetate fraction at 100 μg/ml was the most active fraction against chloroquine-resistant P. falciparum. Based on the structural characterization, the major compound isolated from the ethyl acetate fraction was kaempferol-3-O-rhamnoside, which showed promising antiplasmodial activity against chloroquine-resistant P. falciparum with an IC50 of 106 μM after 24 h of treatment. The present study has provided a basis for the further investigation of kaempferol-3-O-rhamnoside as an active compound for potential antimalarial therapeutics.
PMCID: PMC4051491  PMID: 24944812
malaria; primates; medicinal plant; natural product; antiplasmodial
11.  Bioactivity Guided Fractionation of Leaves Extract of Nyctanthes arbor tristis (Harshringar) against P falciparum 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51714.
Nyctanthes arbor-tristis (Harshringar, Night Jasmine) has been traditionally used in Ayurveda, Unani and other systems of medicine in India. The juice of its leaves has been used by various tribal populations of India in treatment of fevers resembling malaria.
Aim of the study
This work reports the antiplasmodial activity guided fractionation of Harshringar leaves extract.
Crude ethanolic Harshringar leaves extract and its RPHPLC purified fractions were studied for antiplasmodial potency against 3D7 (CQ sensitive) and Dd2 (CQ resistant) strains of P.falciparum and subsequently subjected to bioassay guided fractionation using reverse phase chromatography to pursue the isolation of active fractions.
Principal Findings
Harshringar crude leaves extract and some of its RPHPLC purified fractions exhibited promising antiplasmodial potency against 3D7 and Dd2 strains of P.falciparum.
The present study has provided scientific validity to the traditional use of leaves extract of Harshringar against malaria leading to the conclusion that this plant holds promise with respect to antimalarial phytotherapy. This is the first scientific report of antiplasmodial activity of RPHPLC fractions of Harshringar leaves extract against P.falciparum strains.
PMCID: PMC3530506  PMID: 23300557
12.  Antiplasmodial Properties and Bioassay-Guided Fractionation of Ethyl Acetate Extracts from Carica papaya Leaves 
We investigated the antiplasmodial properties of crude extracts from Carica papaya leaves to trace the activity through bioassay-guided fractionation. The greatest antiplasmodial activity was observed in the ethyl acetate crude extract. C. papaya showed a high selectivity for P. falciparum against CHO cells with a selectivity index of 249.25 and 185.37 in the chloroquine-sensitive D10 and chloroquine-resistant DD2 strains, respectively. Carica papaya ethyl acetate extract was subjected to bioassay-guided fractionation to ascertain the most active fraction, which was purified and identified using high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) and GC-MS (Gas chromatography-Mass spectrometry) methods. Linoleic and linolenic acids identified from the ethyl acetate fraction showed IC50 of 6.88 μg/ml and 3.58 μg/ml, respectively. The study demonstrated greater antiplasmodial activity of the crude ethyl acetate extract of Carica papaya leaves with an IC50 of 2.96 ± 0.14 μg/ml when compared to the activity of the fractions and isolated compounds.
PMCID: PMC3228370  PMID: 22174990
13.  Biologically Active Tetranorditerpenoids from the Fungus Sclerotinia homoeocarpa, Causal Agent of Dollar Spot in Turfgrass 
Journal of natural products  2009;72(12):2091-2097.
Nine new tetranorditerpenoid dilactones (2–10), together with two previously reported norditerpenoids dilactones (1, 11), and two known putative biosynthetic intermediates oidiolactone-E (12) and 13 were isolated from an ethyl acetate extract of a culture medium of Sclerotinia homoeocarpa. Structures and absolute configuration of these compounds were determined by spectroscopic methods and confirmed by X-ray crystallographic analysis of representative compounds. Compounds were evaluated for herbicidal, antiplasmodial and cytotoxic activities. Compounds 1, 2, 6, 7, 11 were more active as growth inhibitors in a duckweed bioassay (I50 values of 0.39 - 0.95 µM) than more than half of 26 commercial herbicides previously evaluated using the same bioassay. Some of these compounds exhibited strong antiplasmodial activities as well, but they also had cytotoxic activity thus precluding them as potential antimalarial agents.
PMCID: PMC2856487  PMID: 19928902
14.  In vitro antiplasmodial activity of crude extracts of Tetrapleura tetraptera and Copaifera religiosa 
BMC Research Notes  2011;4:506.
Malaria remains a major public health problem, especially in tropical and subtropical regions because of the emergence and widespread of antimalarial drug resistance. Traditional medicine represents one potential source of new treatments. Here, we investigated the in vitro antiplasmodial activity of bark extracts from two Fabaceae species (Tetrapleura tertaptera and Copaifera religiosa) traditionally used to treat malaria symptoms in Haut-Ogooué province, Gabon.
The antiplasmodial activity of dichloromethane and methanolic extracts was tested on P. falciparum strains FCB (chloroquine-resistant) and 3D7 (chloroquine-sensitive) and on fresh clinical isolates, using the DELI method. Host cell toxicity was analyzed on MRC-5 human diploid embryonic lung cells using the MTT test.
The dichloromethane extracts of the two plants had interesting activity (IC50 between 8.5 ± 4.7 and 13.4 ± 3.6 μg/ml). The methanolic extract of Tetrapleura tetraptera was less active (IC50 around 30 μg/ml) and the methanolic extract of Copaifera religiosa was inactive. The selectivity index (toxicity/antiplasmodial activity) of the dichloromethane extract of Tetrapleura tetraptera was high (around 7), while the dichloromethane extract of Copaifera religiosa had the lowest selectivity (0.6). The mean IC50 values for field isolates were less than 1.5 μg/ml for dichloromethane extracts of both plants, while methanolic extracts of Tetrapleura tetraptera showed interesting activity (IC50 = 13.1 μg/ml). The methanolic extract of Copaifera religiosa was also inactive on field isolates.
Dichloromethane extracts of Tetrapleura tetraptera and Copaifera religiosa, two plants used to treat malaria in Gabon, had interesting antiplasmodial activity in vitro. These data provide a scientific rationale for the traditional use of these plants against malaria symptoms. Bioactivity-guided phytochemical analyses are underway to identify the active compounds.
PMCID: PMC3247923  PMID: 22112366
Plant extracts; Fabaceae, antiplasmodial activity; cytotoxicity; Plasmodium falciparum
15.  Antiplasmodial activity of bacilosarcin A isolated from the octocoral-associated bacterium Bacillus sp. collected in Panama 
This study was designed for isolating and characterizing antiplasmodial compounds from marine octocoral-associated bacteria.
Materials and Methods:
The organic extract of the Bacillus sp. was subjected to purification using several chromatography techniques guided by bioassays to yield three isocoumarin derivatives (1–3). Chemical structures of the compounds were elucidated on the basis of HRMS spectra and NMR spectroscopy. The antiplasmodial activity of the isolated compounds was evaluated in vitro against the chloroquine-resistant Plasmodium falciparum strain W2.
Isolated compounds were identified as bacilosarcin A (1), AI77-F (2), and AI77-H (3). Bacilosarcin A (1) displayed a low micromolar activity (IC50 = 2.2 μM) against P. falciparum while compounds 2 and 3 showed no activity.
Bacilosarcin A was found to be responsible for the antiplasmodial activity observed in the crude extract obtained from the Bacillus sp.
PMCID: PMC3283960  PMID: 22368402
Bacillus; bacilosarcin A; isocoumarins; Leptogorgia alba; marine bacteria; octocorals; Plasmodium falciparum
16.  A Plant-Derived Morphinan as a Novel Lead Compound Active against Malaria Liver Stages  
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(12):e513.
The global spread of multidrug–resistant malaria parasites has led to an urgent need for new chemotherapeutic agents. Drug discovery is primarily directed to the asexual blood stages, and few drugs that are effective against the obligatory liver stages, from which the pathogenic blood infection is initiated, have become available since primaquine was deployed in the 1950s.
Methods and Findings
Using bioassay-guided fractionation based on the parasite's hepatic stage, we have isolated a novel morphinan alkaloid, tazopsine, from a plant traditionally used against malaria in Madagascar. This compound and readily obtained semisynthetic derivatives were tested for inhibitory activity against liver stage development in vitro (P. falciparum and P. yoelii) and in vivo (P. yoelii). Tazopsine fully inhibited the development of P. yoelii (50% inhibitory concentration [IC50] 3.1 μM, therapeutic index [TI] 14) and P. falciparum (IC50 4.2 μM, TI 7) hepatic parasites in cultured primary hepatocytes, with inhibition being most pronounced during the early developmental stages. One derivative, N-cyclopentyl-tazopsine (NCP-tazopsine), with similar inhibitory activity was selected for its lower toxicity (IC50 3.3 μM, TI 46, and IC50 42.4 μM, TI 60, on P. yoelii and P. falciparum hepatic stages in vitro, respectively). Oral administration of NCP-tazopsine completely protected mice from a sporozoite challenge. Unlike the parent molecule, the derivative was uniquely active against Plasmodium hepatic stages.
A readily obtained semisynthetic derivative of a plant-derived compound, tazopsine, has been shown to be specifically active against the liver stage, but inactive against the blood forms of the malaria parasite. This unique specificity in an antimalarial drug severely restricts the pressure for the selection of drug resistance to a parasite stage limited both in numbers and duration, thus allowing researchers to envisage the incorporation of a true causal prophylactic in malaria control programs.
A derivative of a morphinan alkaloid, tazopsine, from a plant used against malaria in Madagascar, is active against the hepatic stages ofPlasmodium species.
Editors' Summary
The parasite that causes malaria has quickly developed resistance to many of the drugs that are commonly used to treat this disease. As a result, new drugs and drug combinations are needed. In some parts of the world where antimalarial drugs are failing due to resistance, or are not available to everyone, people often turn to traditional herbal remedies instead. These traditional plant remedies can be a useful starting point for development of new drugs, but the process of developing effective new drugs from plant remedies is long and complicated. An important initial step is to isolate and identify the active compounds from plants and then see how well these compounds perform against malaria parasites in laboratory tests. If the tests are successful, such compounds could then progress to experiments in animals and possibly eventually human trials. One plant used widely in Madagascar for treatment of malaria is Strychnopsis thouarsii; the traditional remedy consists of the plant stem bark boiled in water.
Why Was This Study Done?
The group of researchers doing this study wanted to discover candidates for new malaria drugs. They therefore wanted to find out which molecular compounds in the stem bark of S. thouarsii contained antimalarial activity, and what particular stage of the malaria parasite's life cycle these compounds had an effect on. The researchers suspected that the agents in this plant bark had some activity against the “liver stage” of malaria infection in humans. This is the first stage of infection, after a person has been bitten by a malaria-infected mosquito, and before blood cells are invaded by malaria parasites (which then causes the disease symptoms). Very few drugs currently in existence have an effect on the “liver stage” of infection, but activity at this stage would be tremendously useful because it could mean a drug is better for prevention of malaria than others in existence.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
First, the researchers wanted to take the traditional herbal remedy—of S. thouarsii bark boiled in water—and find out precisely which molecule in that remedy was responsible for the antimalarial activity. They therefore used a method called chromatography to progressively separate the herbal extract into its distinct components. At each stage of separation, the extract was checked for activity against malaria using a laboratory test. Inactive extracts were disregarded, and the active component then taken on to a further separation round. After many rounds of separation and testing, the researchers got down to a single, apparently new, molecule that was active against malaria in the laboratory test, and this molecule was named tazopsine (in the Malagasy language the word Tazo refers to malaria). In order to find out how effective the molecule was at killing malaria parasites, the researchers took human or mouse liver cells cultured in the laboratory, infected them with malaria parasites (either the malaria parasite that normally infects humans, or a related species that infects mice), and then added tazopsine at different concentrations. The compound completely killed the malaria parasites even at very low concentrations, and had activity against malaria infecting either liver cells or red blood cells. Tazopsine was then given to mice injected with a species of the malaria parasite. The compound protected most mice against malaria infection when it was used at a dosage level lower than the toxic dose. The researchers then tried making a series of different variants of tazopsine in the hope that some variants would be less toxic, but equally active as, the original compound. They found one variant, named NCP-tazopsine, that was much less toxic but just as active as tazopsine, but only against the malaria infecting liver cells.
What Do These Findings Mean?
In these experiments a new molecule, tazopsine, was discovered from a Malagasy plant, and it was found to be active against liver-stage malaria parasites, in laboratory experiments and in mice. This molecule or variants of it could in future become candidate antimalarial drugs in humans. However, much work would need to be done before testing could get to that stage. Different variants of molecules related to tazopsine would need to be tested to find one that has low toxicity, and these variants would need to be fully evaluated in animals to see how they are handled in the body before any trials could begin in humans.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The World Health Organization publishes a minisite containing links to information about all aspects of malaria worldwide, including treatment, prevention, and current programmes for malaria control
Medicines for Malaria Venture is a collaboration between public and private organizations (including the pharmaceutical industry) that aims to fund and manage the development of new drugs for treatment and prevention of malaria
Wikipedia entries for drug discovery and drug development (note: Wikipedia is an internet encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
PMCID: PMC1716192  PMID: 17194195
17.  Bioactive Cycloperoxides Isolated from the Puerto Rican Sponge Plakortis halichondrioides 
Journal of natural products  2010;73(10):1694-1700.
Two new five-membered ring polyketide endoperoxides, epiplakinic acid F methyl ester (1) and epiplakinidioic acid (3), and a peroxide–lactone, plakortolide J (2), were isolated from the Puerto Rican sponge Plakortis halichondrioides, along with two previously reported cyclic peroxides, 4 and 5. The structures of the new metabolites were determined by spectroscopic and chemical analyses. The absolute stereostructures of 1, 2, and 5 were determined by degradation reactions followed by application of Kishi’s method for the assignment of absolute configuration of alcohols. Biological screening of cycloperoxides 1–5 and semisynthetic analogs 7–12 for cytotoxic activity against various human tumor cell lines revealed that compounds 3, 4 and 11 are very active. Upon assaying for antimalarial and antitubercular activity, some of the compounds tested showed strong activity against the pathogenic microbes Plasmodium falciparum and Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
PMCID: PMC3036788  PMID: 20923180
18.  Coronary vascular occlusion mediated via thromboxane A2-prostaglandin endoperoxide receptor activation in vivo. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1986;77(2):496-502.
The use of enzyme inhibitors to clarify the role of thromboxane A2 in vasoocclusive disease has been complicated by their non-specific action. To address this problem we have examined the effects of thromboxane A2/prostaglandin endoperoxide receptor antagonism in a canine model of platelet-dependent coronary occlusion. Two structurally distinct thromboxane A2/prostaglandin endoperoxide receptor antagonists, 3-carboxyl-dibenzo (b, f) thiepin-5,5-dioxide (L636,499) and (IS-(1 alpha,2 beta(5Z),3 beta,4 alpha))-7-(3-((2-((phenylamino)-carbonyl)hydrazino)methyl)-7- oxabicy-clo(2.2.1)-hept-2-yl)-5-heptenoic acid (SQ 29,548), were studied to ensure that the effects seen in vivo were mediated by receptor antagonism and did not reflect a nonspecific drug effect. Both compounds specifically inhibited platelet aggregation induced by arachidonic acid and by the prostaglandin endoperoxide analogue, U46619, in vitro and ex vivo, and increased the time to thrombotic vascular occlusion in vivo. When an antagonist (L636,499) was administered at the time of occlusion in vehicle-treated dogs, coronary blood flow was restored. In vitro L636,499 and a third antagonist, 13-azaprostanoic acid, specifically reversed endoperoxide-induced platelet aggregation and vascular smooth muscle contraction. Neither compound altered cyclic AMP in platelet-rich plasma before or during disaggregation. Therefore, reversal of coronary occlusion may reflect disaggregation of platelets and/or relaxation of vascular smooth muscle at the site of thrombus formation through specific antagonism of the thromboxane A2/prostaglandin endoperoxide receptor. Thromboxane A2/prostaglandin endoperoxide receptor antagonists are compounds with therapeutic potential which represent a novel approach to defining the importance of thromboxane A2 and/or endoperoxide formation in vivo.
PMCID: PMC423371  PMID: 3003161
19.  Antiplasmodial activity of sesquiterpene lactones and a sucrose ester from Vernonia guineensis Benth. (Asteraceae) 
Journal of ethnopharmacology  2013;147(3):618-621.
Ethnopharmacological relevance
Aqueous preparations of Vernonia guineensis Benth. (Asteraceae) are used in Cameroonian folk medicine as a general stimulant and to treat various illnesses and conditions including malaria, bacterial infections and helminthic infestations.
Materials and methods
10-g samples of the leaf and tuber powders of V. guineensis were extracted separately using dichloromethane, methanol and distilled water. The extracts were dried in vacuo and used in bioassays. These extracts and three compounds previously isolated from V. guineensis [vernopicrin (1), vernomelitensin (2) and pentaisovalerylsucrose (3)] were screened for antiplasmodial activity against chloroquine (CQ)-sensitive (Hb3) and CQ-resistant (Dd2) Plasmodium falciparum lines.
Crude extracts and pure compounds from V. guineensis showed antiplasmodial activity against both Hb3 and Dd2. The IC50 values of extracts ranged from 1.64 – 27.2 μg/ml for Hb3 and 1.82 – 30.0 μg/ml for Dd2; those for compounds 1, 2 and 3 ranged from 0.47 – 1.62 μg/ml (1364 – 1774 nM) for Hb3 and 0.57 – 1.50 μg/ml (1644 – 2332 nM) for Dd2. None of the crude extracts or pure compounds was observed to exert toxic effects on the erythrocytes used to cultivate the P. falciparum lines.
In Cameroonian folk medicine, V. guineensis may be used to treat malaria in part due to the antiplasmodial activity of sesquiterpene lactones (1, 2), a sucrose ester (3) and perhaps other compounds present in crude plant extracts. Exploring the safety and antiplasmodial efficacy of these compounds in vivo requires further study.
PMCID: PMC3654050  PMID: 23542146
Vernonia guineensis; antiplasmodial activity; sesquiterpene lactone; sucrose ester; Cameroon
20.  Ex Vivo Activity of Endoperoxide Antimalarials, Including Artemisone and Arterolane, against Multidrug-Resistant Plasmodium falciparum Isolates from Cambodia 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2014;58(10):5831-5840.
Novel synthetic endoperoxides are being evaluated as new components of artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs) to treat artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria. We conducted blinded ex vivo activity testing of fully synthetic (OZ78 and OZ277) and semisynthetic (artemisone, artemiside, artesunate, and dihydroartemisinin) endoperoxides in the histidine-rich protein 2 enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay against 200 P. falciparum isolates from areas of artemisinin-resistant malaria in western and northern Cambodia in 2009 and 2010. The order of potency and geometric mean (GM) 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC50s) were as follows: artemisone (2.40 nM) > artesunate (8.49 nM) > dihydroartemisinin (11.26 nM) > artemiside (15.28 nM) > OZ277 (31.25 nM) > OZ78 (755.27 nM). Ex vivo activities of test endoperoxides positively correlated with dihydroartemisinin and artesunate. The isolates were over 2-fold less susceptible to dihydroartemisinin than the artemisinin-sensitive P. falciparum W2 clone and showed sensitivity comparable to those with test endoperoxides and artesunate, with isolate/W2 IC50 susceptibility ratios of <2.0. All isolates had P. falciparum chloroquine resistance transporter mutations, with negative correlations in sensitivity to endoperoxides and chloroquine. The activities of endoperoxides (artesunate, dihydroartemisinin, OZ277, and artemisone) significantly correlated with that of the ACT partner drug, mefloquine. Isolates had mutations associated with clinical resistance to mefloquine, with 35% prevalence of P. falciparum multidrug resistance gene 1 (pfmdr1) amplification and 84.5% occurrence of the pfmdr1 Y184F mutation. GM IC50s for mefloquine, lumefantrine, and endoperoxides (artesunate, dihydroartemisinin, OZ277, OZ78, and artemisone) correlated with pfmdr1 copy number. Given that current ACTs are failing potentially from reduced sensitivity to artemisinins and partner drugs, newly identified mutations associated with artemisinin resistance reported in the literature and pfmdr1 mutations should be examined for their combined contributions to emerging ACT resistance.
PMCID: PMC4187925  PMID: 25049252
21.  Antiplasmodial activity of solvent fractions of methanolic root extract of Dodonaea angustifolia in Plasmodium berghei infected mice 
Malaria is one of the most important infectious diseases in the World. The choice for the treatment is highly limited, and several of these may eventually be lost or compromised due to drug resistance. The use of plant medicine in the treatment of malaria and its various presentations is a common practice in many countries of Africa where the disease is mostly endemic. Dodonaea angustifolia is traditionally used in Ethiopia for prophylaxis against malaria. The present study is attempted to evaluate the antimalarial activity of the solvent fractions of root extracts of D. angustifolia in P. berghei infected mice.
In this study, 4-days Peter’s suppressive test was used to determine parasite inhibition. Acute toxicity test was also conducted on the most active fraction according to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) guidelines 425. Data was analyzed by using Windows SPSS version 16 and expressed as mean ± SD for each dose level. ANOVA followed by Post Hoc Tukey’s HSD was used to compare result between treatment and control groups. Students paired t-test was employed to test significance for the difference between initial and final results within the same group.
All three fractions showed varying degrees of antiplasmodial activity. The n-butanol fraction displayed a relatively highest suppression of parasitaemia (67.51%) at an oral dose of 600 mg/kg. Lower doses, 200 mg/kg and 400 mg/kg, of the fraction also resulted in parasitaemia suppression of 38.02% and 55.85%, respectively. Chemosuppressive activity of chloroform and aqueous fractions was less compared to that of n-butanol fraction. All the three fractions displayed dose dependent significant (P < 0.001) antiplasmodial activity as compared to the control. Survival time was prolonged in case of n-butanol and chloroform fractions. No lethality to mice was seen with n-butanol fraction up to a dose of 2000 mg/kg.
All the three fractions possessed significant antiplasmodial activity as compared with the control group. n-butanol fraction was found to be the most active fraction with minimal toxicity and might contain potential lead molecule for the development of a new drug for treatment of malaria.
PMCID: PMC4289057  PMID: 25465394
Malaria; Drug resistance; Dodonaea angustifolia; Plasmodium berghei and LD50
22.  Analysis of additivity and synergism in the anti-plasmodial effect of purified compounds from plant extracts 
Malaria Journal  2011;10(Suppl 1):S5.
In the search for antimalarials from ethnobotanical origin, plant extracts are chemically fractionated and biological tests guide the isolation of pure active compounds. To establish the responsibility of isolated active compound(s) to the whole antiplasmodial activity of a crude extract, the literature in this field was scanned and results were analysed quantitatively to find the contribution of the pure compound to the activity of the whole extract. It was found that, generally, the activity of isolated molecules could not account on their own for the activity of the crude extract. It is suggested that future research should take into account the “drugs beside the drug”, looking for those products (otherwise discarded along the fractionation process) able to boost the activity of isolated active compounds.
PMCID: PMC3059463  PMID: 21411016
23.  Marine Antimalarials 
Marine Drugs  2009;7(2):130-152.
Malaria is an infectious disease causing at least 1 million deaths per year, and, unfortunately, the chemical entities available to treat malaria are still too limited. In this review we highlight the contribution of marine chemistry in the field of antimalarial research by reporting the most important results obtained until the beginning of 2009, with particular emphasis on recent discoveries. About 60 secondary metabolites produced by marine organisms have been grouped into three structural types and discussed in terms of their reported antimalarial activities. The major groups of metabolites include isonitrile derivatives, alkaloids and endoperoxide derivatives. The following discussion evidences that antimalarial marine molecules can efficiently integrate the panel of lead compounds isolated from terrestrial sources with new chemical backbones and, sometimes, with unique functional groups.
PMCID: PMC2707039  PMID: 19597577
Malaria; Marine metabolites; Isonitrile; Alkaloids; Endoperoxides
24.  Male and Female Plasmodium falciparum Mature Gametocytes Show Different Responses to Antimalarial Drugs 
It is the mature gametocytes of Plasmodium that are solely responsible for parasite transmission from the mammalian host to the mosquito. They are therefore a logical target for transmission-blocking antimalarial interventions, which aim to break the cycle of reinfection and reduce the prevalence of malaria cases. Gametocytes, however, are not a homogeneous cell population. They are sexually dimorphic, and both males and females are required for parasite transmission. Using two bioassays, we explored the effects of 20 antimalarials on the functional viability of both male and female mature gametocytes of Plasmodium falciparum. We show that mature male gametocytes (as reported by their ability to produce male gametes, i.e., to exflagellate) are sensitive to antifolates, some endoperoxides, methylene blue, and thiostrepton, with submicromolar 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC50s), whereas female gametocytes (as reported by their ability to activate and form gametes expressing the marker Pfs25) are much less sensitive to antimalarial intervention, with only methylene blue and thiostrepton showing any significant activity. These findings show firstly that the antimalarial responses of male and female gametocytes differ and secondly that the mature male gametocyte should be considered a more vulnerable target than the female gametocyte for transmission-blocking drugs. Given the female-biased sex ratio of Plasmodium falciparum (∼3 to 5 females:1 male), current gametocyte assays without a sex-specific readout are unlikely to identify male-targeted compounds and prioritize them for further development. Both assays reported here are being scaled up to at least medium throughput and will permit identification of key transmission-blocking molecules that have been overlooked by other screening campaigns.
PMCID: PMC3697345  PMID: 23629698
25.  New Antimalarial Hits from Dacryodes edulis (Burseraceae) - Part I: Isolation, In Vitro Activity, In Silico “drug-likeness” and Pharmacokinetic Profiles 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79544.
The aims of the present study were to identify the compounds responsible for the anti-malarial activity of Dacryoedes edulis (Burseraceae) and to investigate their suitability as leads for the treatment of drug resistant malaria. Five compounds were isolated from ethyl acetate and hexane extracts of D. edulis stem bark and tested against 3D7 (chloroquine-susceptible) and Dd2 (multidrug-resistant) strains of Plasmodium falciparum, using the parasite lactate dehydrogenase method. Cytotoxicity studies were carried out on LLC-MK2 monkey kidney epithelial cell-line. In silico analysis was conducted by calculating molecular descriptors using the MOE software running on a Linux workstation. The “drug-likeness” of the isolated compounds was assessed using Lipinski criteria, from computed molecular properties of the geometry optimized structures. Computed descriptors often used to predict absorption, distribution, metabolism, elimination and toxicity (ADMET) were used to assess the pharmacokinetic profiles of the isolated compounds. Antiplasmodial activity was demonstrated for the first time in five major natural products previously identified in D. edulis, but not tested against malaria parasites. The most active compound identified was termed DES4. It had IC50 values of 0.37 and 0.55 µg/mL, against 3D7 and Dd2 respectively. In addition, this compound was shown to act in synergy with quinine, satisfied all criteria of “Drug-likeness” and showed considerable probability of providing an antimalarial lead. The remaining four compounds also showed antiplasmodial activity, but were less effective than DES4. None of the tested compounds was cytotoxicity against LLC-MK2 cells, suggesting their selective activities on malaria parasites. Based on the high in vitro activity, low toxicity and predicted “Drug-likeness” DES4 merits further investigation as a possible drug lead for the treatment of malaria.
PMCID: PMC3836662  PMID: 24282507

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