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.