Antimalarial evaluation of selected medicinal plant extracts used in Iranian traditional medicine

Document Type : Original Article


1 Infectious and Tropical Diseases Research Center, Health Research Institute Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences, Ahvaz, Iran

2 Leishmaniasis Disease Registry Committee, Dezful University of Medical Sciences, Dezful, Iran

3 Department of Parasitology, Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences, Ahvaz, Iran

4 Department of Biochemistry, Pasteur Institute of Iran, Tehran, Iran

5 Zanjan Pharmaceutical Biotechnology Research Center, Zanjan University of Medical Sciences, Zanjan, Iran


Objective(s): In an attempt to discover new natural active extracts against malaria parasites, the present study evaluated the antiplasmodial properties of selected plants based on Iranian traditional medicine.
Materials and Methods: Ten plant species found in Iran were selected and collected based on the available literature about the Iranian traditional medicine. The methanolic extracts of these plants were investigated for in vitro antimalarial properties against chloroquine-sensitive (3D7) and multi-drug resistant (K1) strains of Plasmodium falciparum. Their in vivo activity against Plasmodium berghei infection in mice was also determined. Cytotoxicity tests were carried out using the Raji cells line using the MTT assay. The extracts were phytochemically screened for their active constituents.
Results: According to the IC50 and selectivity index (SI) values, of the 10 selected plant species, Citrullus colocynthis, Physalis alkekengi, and Solanum nigrum displayed potent in vitro antimalarial activity against both 3D7 and K1 strains with no toxicity (IC50= 2.01-18.67 µg/ml and SI=3.55 to 19.25).  Comparisons between treated and untreated control mice showed that the mentioned plant species reduced parasitemia by 65.08%, 57.97%, and 60.68%, respectively.  The existence of antiplasmodial compounds was detected in these plant extracts.
Conclusion: This was the first study to highlight the in vitro and in vivo antiplasmodial effects of             C. colocynthis, P. alkekengi, and S. nigrum in Iran. Future studies can use these findings to design further biological tests to identify the active constituents of the mentioned plant species and clarify their mechanism of action.


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