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J Ethnopharmacol. 1996 Dec;55(1):1-11.

Evaluation of African medicinal plants for their in vitro trypanocidal activity.

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Swiss Tropical Institute, Basel, Switzerland.


Petroleum ether, dichloromethane, methanol and water extracts from 24 plants, belonging to 19 families, which are reported in the literature as traditional remedies for sleeping sickness (human African trypanosomiasis) were screened for in vitro activity against Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense, as well as fro cytotoxicity for a human fibroblast cell-line (WI-38). The trypanocidal activity of the natural compounds berberine and harmane, both documented as being trypanocidal, was also evaluated. Promising trypanocidal activity with IC50 values below 10 micrograms/ml was found in 32 extracts of 13 plant species. The most active extracts with IC50 below 1 microgram/ml were derived from Annona senegalensis, Bussea occidentalis and Physalis angulata. The plant extracts showed a modest selectivity index, in contrast to commercially available trypanocides which have a more distinct selective toxicity against trypanosomes.

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