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J Ethnopharmacol. 2005 May 13;99(1):137-43.

The in vitro and in vivo antimalarial activity of Cardiospermum halicacabum L. and Momordica foetida Schumch. Et Thonn.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Makerere University, Medical School, Box 7072 Kampala, Uganda.


Two plants Cardiospermum halicacabum L. and Momordica foetida Schumch. Et Thonn traditionally used to treat symptoms of malaria in parts of East and Central Africa were screened for in vitro and in vivo antimalarial activity. Using the nitro tetrazolium blue-based parasite lactate dehydrogenase assay as used by [Makler, M.T., Ries, J.M., Williams, J.A., Bancroft, J.E., Piper, R.C., Gibbins, B.L., Hinrichs, D.J., 1993. Parasite lactate dehydrogenase as an assay for Plasmodium falciparum drug sensitivity. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 48, 739-741], water extracts from the two plants were found to have weak in vitro antiplasmodial activity with 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC50s) greater than 28.00 microg/ml. In vivo studies of water extracts from the two plants showed that Momordica foetida given orally in the dose range 10, 100, 200 and 500 mg/kg twice daily prolonged survival of Plasmodium berghei (Anka) infected mice from 7.0+/-1.8 to 17.9+/-1.8 days. The water extract of Cardiospermum halicacabum L was toxic to mice, none surviving beyond day 4 of oral administration, with no evidence of protection against Plasmodium berghei malaria. The study emphasizes the discrepancy that might be found between in vitro and in vivo testing of plant-derived antimalarial extracts and the need to consider in vitro antiplasmodial data with this in mind. Further studies on Momordica foetida as a source of an antimalarial remedy are indicated on the basis of these results.

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