A pharmacological study of some Nigerian medicinal plants.
Chukwujekwu, Jude Chinedu.
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Petroleum ether, dichloromethane, and 80% ethanol extracts of 15 plant species collected in Nigeria were screened for in vitro antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antimalarial activities. Antibacterial activity was tested using the agar diffusion method, while the minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) of the active extracts were determined using the microtitre serial dilution method. Most antibacterial activity detected was against Gram-positive bacteria with Staphylococcus aureus being the most susceptible. The highest activity was found in petroleum ether and dichloromethane leaf extracts of Mallotus oppositifolius; petroleum ether, dichloromethane and ethanolic root extracts of Newbouldia laevis; and ethanolic root extracts of Morinda lucida and Canthium subcordatum. Against the Gram-negative bacterium Escherichia coli, the highest activity was found in dichloromethane leaf extracts of Newbouldia laevis, ethanolic root extracts of Phyllanthus amarus, Mallotus oppositifolius, and Canthium subcordatum. A total of 60 plant extracts were screened for antiplasmodial activity. A chloroquine sensitive strain of Plasmodium falciparum (D10) was used. In the assay, the parasite lactate dehydrogenase (pLDH) activity was used to measure parasite viability. About 11 extracts showed promising activity with an IC₅₀ ranging from 2.5 to 13.4 µg/ml. The petroleum ether leaf extract of Hyptis suaveolens had the highest activity (IC₅₀ = 2.5 µg/ml). The cyclooxygenase (COX-1 and COX-2) assays were used to test for anti-inflammatory activity. All the plant species, with the exception of Hedranthera barteri and Picralima nitida showed anti-inflammatory activity. Apart for a few ethanolic extracts, all the activities were recorded with petroleum ether and dichloromethane extracts. Employing bioassay-guided activity fractionation, an antibacterial anthraquinone identified as emodin was isolated from ethanolic root extract of Senna occidentalis. Although this compound had been isolated from other sources, this was the first report of isolation from Senna occidentalis. Using a similar approach a novel antimalarial diterpenoid was isolated from the petroleum ether leaves extract of Hyptis suaveolens. It had IC₅₀ of 0.1 µg/ml. This new compound is worthy of further investigation and may act as an important lead compound for future antimalarial drugs.