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Musuyu Muganza, D.; Fruth, Barbara ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9217-3053; Nzunzu Lami, J.; Mesia, G. K.; Kambu, O. K.; Tona, G. L.; Cimanga Kanyanga, R.; Cos, P.; Maes, L.; Apers, S. and Pieters, L. (2012): In vitro antiprotozoal and cytotoxic activity of 33 ethonopharmacologically selected medicinal plants from Democratic Republic of Congo. In: Journal of ethnopharmacology, Vol. 141, No. 7: pp. 301-308

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Ethnopharmacological relevance The antiprotozoal and cytotoxic activity of the aqueous extracts from 33 medicinal plants, used by traditional healers for the treatment of various parasitic diseases and collected after an ethnopharmacological inventory conducted in the Bolongo area, Bandundu province in DR Congo, was evaluated.

Materials and methods Decoctions were prepared, lyophilized and evaluated for in vitro antiprotozoal activity against Trypanosoma b. brucei, Trypanosoma cruzi, Leishmania infantum, and the chloroquine- and pyrimethamine-resistant K1 strain of Plasmodium falciparum. Cytotoxicity against MRC-5 cells was included to assess selectivity of activity.

Results Most of the tested extracts exhibited pronounced (IC50 ≤ 5 μg/ml) or good (5 < IC50 ≤ 10 μg/ml) antiprotozoal activity against one or more of the selected protozoa. A total of 19 plant extracts inhibited Trypanosoma b. brucei, especially the extract from Isolona hexaloba stem bark (IC50 = 1.95 μg/ml, SI = 16.5); 8 plant extracts were active against Trypanosoma cruzi, the extracts from Enanatia chlorantha stem bark and Quassia africana root bark being the most active with IC50 values of 1.87 and 1.88 μg/ml, respectively (SI = 3.0 and 3.3, respectively); 8 plant extracts showed activity against Leishmania infantum, with extracts from Napoleona vogelii stem bark and Quassia africana root bark as the most active with IC50 values of 5.66 and 5.04 μg/ml (SI = 11.3 and 1.2). Finally, 9 plant extracts inhibited Plasmodium falciparum K1 with the extracts from Quassia africana (root bark and stem bark) being the most active ones with IC50 values of 0.46 and 1.27 μg/ml (SI = 13.7 and 13.6). Extracts from Enantia chlorantha stem bark, Piptadeniastrum africanum stem bark and Quassia africana root bark were cytotoxic for MRC-5 cells (CC50 < 10 μg/ml).

Conclusions These results can partly support and justify the traditional use of some of these plant species for the treatment of parasitic diseases.

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