Antimicrobial properties of traditional medicine used for treatment of HIV/AIDS and its opportunistic infections.
This study was conducted to establish the scientific basis of the reported ethnomedicinal use of Ihlamvu laseAfrika (IHL) against Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immunodeficiency Virus (AIDS) related infections. IHL is believed to have a positive effect on AIDS however this has neither been clinically nor laboratory proven. Such effect can either be directly due to IHL’s inhibition of the virus causing AIDS or indirectly by the inhibition of organisms causing opportunistic infections. Experiments were carried out to test for the effect of IHL against Cryptococcus neoformans, Candida albicans, Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) and HIV. The toxicity of IHL was determined by means of three assays. Using the Trypan Blue Dye exclusion test, an aqueous mixture of IHL was tested on Vero cells (African Green Monkey) for acute toxicity at two concentrations. Cell membranes compromised by IHL would take up dye and eventually spill their contents. Vero cells that were exposed to 1μg/mL and 100μg/mL concentrations of IHL for 7 hours resulted in (8.9±0.15) % and (98.7±0.84) % cell viability (n=3), respectively. When the duration of incubation increased to 48 hours, percentage cell viability of 1μg/mL and 100μg/mL concentrations were (98.3±0.50) and (98.2±0.50) respectively. The second cytotoxicity test involved incorporation an aqueous mixture of IHL onto 3- (4,5-Dimethylthiazol-2-Yl)-2,5-Diphenyltetrazolium Bromide (MTT). Cells were incubated in IHL for 24 and 48 hours resulting in a decrease in cell viability in a dose-dependent manner. At the lowest IHL concentration (0.1μg/mL) the cell viability was 80% and 78.5% after 24 and 48 hours incubations, respectively whereas at the highest concentration (1000μg/mL) was used in 24 and 48 hours incubation, cell viability was 50% and 80% respectively. The third cytotoxicity test called glutathione (GSH) focused on antioxidant level. The aim was to determine the highest concentration at which cells starts dying, concentrations used were 0.23; 0.46; 0.94; 1.88; 3.75; 7.50; 15.0 and 30.0 mg/mL. The results showed that the antioxidants levels were reduced in proportions relative to IHL concentration levels. The safe and effective dose of IHL obtained was 1.88mg/mL. The second objective of the study was to determine IHL’s active principle that is capable of inhibiting growth of C. albicans and C. neoformans, HSV, MTB and HIV. Solvents such as methanol, ethanol and acetone were utilized including an aqueous extract to extract it. The most suitable extract to inhibit the proliferation of the aforementioned organisms needed to be established. Upon its establishment, it was then used to determine the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC). This was done in all susceptibility tests except for HIV whereby a ‘neat substance’ was used. In the case of HSV a causative agent for herpes, its susceptibility towards several IHL extracts was assessed with real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). PCR attenuates specific site of DNA and quantifies viral load and the focus was the UL30 position which is targeted by most drugs. When comparing all solvent extracts as well as an aqueous extract of similar concentration, it was found that the methanol extract emerged as the strongest viral inhibitor with the lowest viral yield, and its threshold value, Ct = 18.4± 0.86 while the IHL concentration was 1.88mg/mL. The MIC of the methanol extract was 1.25mg/mL and Ct=18.9±1.14. An acetone extract proved to be the weakest thus its viral load was the highest, its Ct= (8.50±1.33) whilst IHL concentration was 1.88mg/mL. Cryptococcus neoformans known for causing meningitis and encephalitis in AIDS patients and C. albicans a causative agent for vaginal and oral thrush were two opportunistic infections tested for susceptibility towards IHL. The disk diffusion method was used for both fungal organisms. The best suited solvent extract was established and then used to determine the MIC. An aqueous extract showed the best activity with the inhibition zones of (10.5±1.642) mm when tested against C. albicans followed by ethanol extract (9.2±0.676) mm while acetone extract (8.80 ±1.21) mm had the lowest activity. The MIC of IHL’s aqueous extract was 1.0mg/mL and the corresponding zone of inhibition was (10.6±1.34) mm. When C. neoformans was tested for susceptibility against various IHL solvent extracts, the IHL’s aqueous extract had inhibition zones of (21.1±2.40) mm thus emerged as the strongest followed by methanol extract (10.3±0.43) mm while ethyl acetate extract was least active (7.13±0.33) mm. The MIC of the aqueous extract was 1.0mg/mL and its corresponding zone of inhibition was (11.4±0.55) mm. Furthermore, the growth inhibition of both C. neoformans and C. albicans by IHL’s aqueous extract were confirmed in liquid media with broth microdilution method. This technique tends to mimic what is likely to happen in a biological fluid. The results obtained depicted a dose-dependent response and both organisms shared a common MIC of 2.0mg/mL. From the broth microtitre plate aliquots samples were plated onto agar and used to further determine the minimum lethal concentration (MLC). The MLC essentially determines the antifungal concentration of an agent at which no colonies displayed visible growth. The MLC’s of IHL towards C. albicans and C. neoformans were 32 and 8 mg/mL respectively. IHL proved fungicidal at higher concentrations and fungistatic at low concentrations. Further susceptibility tests of IHL extracts were carried out on bacterial pathogens such as the MTB, a causative agent for Tuberculosis with 1% proportion method. This method seeks to determine if isolates are resistant if colonies grown in the presence of drugs are greater or equal to 1% of colonies grown in drug-free control quadrant. The best solvent extract was determined and then used to determine the MIC. Acetone extract results were 0.2% meaning that it strongly inhibited growth of MTB better than ethyl acetate (5%) and others the worst results were that of an aqueous extract (113%). A confirmation exercise was done with an agar dilution method. All extracts were incorporated onto agar and MTB colonies growing relative to negative controls after 21 days of incubation meant resistance while no growth meant susceptible. The MTB strain again proved susceptible towards the acetone extract but resistant towards methanol, ethanol, and aqueous extracts. The dichloromethane and ethyl acetate extracts seemed to have damaged the polypropylene plates rendering results null and void. Using agar dilution method, an MIC of an acetone extract was 16mg/mL. An aqueous extract was used for assessing HIV for susceptibility towards IHL. The quantitation of viral results were carried out on a spectrophotometer and a second generation tetrazolium dye (XTT) was used. The results showed that approximately -3.29 dilution of the aqueous extract did not protect cells. On the contrary, it proved to be toxic to both uninfected and infected cells. Moreover at low doses the extract demonstrated 50% protection towards uninfected cells. The third objective entailed the assessment of reproducibility of IHL that is routinely prepared by the Traditional Health Practitioner (THP). Batch to batch reproducibility is always a concern especially since traditional medicine is manufactured without any traceable set of standards. Two IHL samples that were prepared on different dates were assessed. Using a thin layer chromatography (TLC) a striking resemblance in the two samples was established visually by way of fractions produced. However, since TLC is a qualitative tool, it was incumbent that an instrument that doesn’t separate sample’s chemical constituents was used. The results produced by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) confirmed similarities in the two batch of IHL samples produced on different dates as it was the case with TLC. Peak intensity and the number of peaks in the chromatogram was a mirror image of the other thus confirming consistency in IHL preparation. The susceptibility tests of IHL towards viruses, bacteria and fungal pathogens present reasons why IHL is regarded as a non-specific repressor of pathogens people living with AIDS (PLWA) present with. The fourth objective of the study entailed the establishment of active principles responsible for the aforementioned activities. The acquisition of chemical fingerprints and their analysis was carried out on an Ultra Performance Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometer (UPLC-MS). The substances thought to be responsible for antimicrobial activities included:- thalebanin B, methyillukumbin A, kuguacin J, mauritine H, 2-methyl-3-(piperidin-1- yl) naphthalene-1,4-dione, isoferuloyllpeol, diosindigo A, kuguacin R, verbascoside, kuguacin B and nuciferin. Further confirmation studies are needed on fractions to identify their chemical makeup as well as their activities on all of the aforementioned microorganisms.