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Exp Parasitol. 2015 Jun;153:45-54. doi: 10.1016/j.exppara.2015.02.011. Epub 2015 Mar 3.

In vitro and in vivo evaluation of anti-leishmanial and immunomodulatory activity of Neem leaf extract in Leishmania donovani infection.

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Department of Animal Sciences, School of Life Sciences, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad 500 046, India.
Department of Medicine, Institute of Medical Science, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi 221005, India.
Department of Animal Sciences, School of Life Sciences, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad 500 046, India. Electronic address:


The toxicity and emergence of resistance to available chemical drugs against visceral leishmaniasis is evoking to explore herbal treatment. One such attempt with the Neem is being reported here. The current study is primarily focused to evaluate the anti-leishmanial effects of Neem leaf extracts. Among which, ethyl acetate fraction (EAF) alone was found to exhibit leishmanicidal effect validated through cytotoxicity assay and estimated its IC₅₀ to be 52.4 µg/ml on the promastigote stage. Propidium iodide (PI) staining of dead cells substantiated the aforementioned activity. Carboxy fluorescein-diaceate succinimidyl ester (CFSE) staining of promastigotes has affirmed its anti-proliferation activity. The characteristic features such as DNA fragmentation, reduced mitochondrial membrane potential, increased sub G0/G1 phase parasites and increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) production in EAF treated promastigotes indicate the apoptosis like death. In addition, the reduced parasite burden both in vitro (viz. ~45% in human monocytic leukemia cell line (THP-1) and ~50% in peripheral blood mononuclear cells) and in vivo (spleen and liver) provides the evidence for its anti-leishmanial activity on amastigote stage. The increase of ROS levels in THP-1 and nitric oxide (NO) production from J774.1 cell line (mouse macrophages) upon EAF treatment was evidenced for oxidative killing of intracellular amastigotes. Active immunomodulatory activity at m-RNA level (viz. upregulation of Th1 cytokines, and downregulation of Th2 cytokines) both in vitro and in vivo was also shown to be exhibited by EAF. Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) analysis of EAF revealed the presence of 14 compounds.


Anti-leishmanial activity; Azadirachta indica; Leishman–Donovan units; Nitric oxide; Reactive oxygen species; Th1/Th2 cytokines

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