In vitro antiplasmodial activity of medicinal plants native to or naturalised in South Africa. Journal of Ethnopharmacology
The increasing prevalence and distribution of malaria has been attributed to a number of factors, one of them being the emergence and spread of drug resistant parasites. Efforts are now being directed towards the discovery and development of new chemically diverse antimalarial agents. The present study reports on the in vitro antiplasmodial activity of 134 plant taxa native to or naturalised in South Africa, representing 54 families, which were selected semi-quantitatively using weighted criteria. The plant extracts were tested for in vitro activity against a Plasmodium falciparum strain D10 using the parasite lactate dehydrogenase (pLDH) assay. Of the 134 species assayed, 49% showed promising antiplasmodial activity (IC50 ≤ 10g/ml), while 17% were found to be highly active (IC50 ≤ 5g/ml). Several plant species and genera were shown for the first time to possess in vitro antiplasmodial activity. These results support a rational rather than random approach to the selection of antiplasmodial screening candidates, and identify a number of promising taxa for further investigation as plant-based antimalarial agents.