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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2010 Nov;54(11):4825-32. doi: 10.1128/AAC.00546-10. Epub 2010 Aug 16.

A novel galacto-glycerolipid from Oxalis corniculata kills Entamoeba histolytica and Giardia lamblia.

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Department of Biochemistry, Bose Institute, Kolkata, India.


Oxalis corniculata is a naturally occurring weed that has been used in traditional medicine for the cure of dysentery and diarrhea in India. One of the common causes of dysentery is due to infection by the protist pathogen Entamoeba histolytica. Bioactivity profiling of extracts from O. corniculata identified several compounds that showed antiamoebic activity in axenic cultures of E. histolytica. These were characterized by nuclear magnetic resonance, infrared, and mass spectrometry as (i) Oc-1, a mixture of saturated fatty acids C₂₄ to C₂₈; (ii) Oc-2, a mixture of long-chain alcohols C₁₈ to C₂₈; and (iii) Oc-3, a single compound that was a galacto-glycerolipid (GGL). Of the different compounds that were obtained, the strongest antiamoebic activity was found in GGL. The addition of GGL to E. histolytica xenic cultures containing other microbial flora from the large intestine did not affect its antiamoebic activity. Amoebicidal concentrations of GGL had no effect on intestinal microbial flora or on the mammalian cell line HEK-293. GGL was also found to be equally effective in killing another protist pathogen, Giardia lamblia, that causes diarrhea in humans. The importance of this study is based on the identification of novel natural products and the possibility of developing these compounds as active agents to treat at least two pathogenic parasitic intestinal infections endemic to tropical regions.

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