In vitro antimalarial activity and cytotoxicity of some selected Cuban medicinal plants.
Terrestrial plants have been demonstrated to be sources of antimalarial compounds. In Cuba, little is known about antimalarial potentials of plant species used as medicinals. For that reason, we evaluated the antimalarial activity of 14 plant species used in Cuba as antimalarial, antipyretic and/or antiparasitic. Hydroalcoholic extracts were prepared and tested in vitro for the antimalarial activity against Plasmodium falciparum Ghana strain and over human cell line MRC-5 to determine cytotoxicity. Parasite multiplication was determined microscopically by the direct count of Giemsa stained parasites. A colorimetric assay was used to quantify cytotoxicity. Nine extracts showed IC50 values lower than 100 µg/mL against P. falciparum, four extracts were classified as marginally active (SI<4), one as partially active (Parthenium hysterophorus) exhibiting SI equal to 6.2 and two extracts as active (Bambusa vulgaris and Punica granatum), showing SI>10. B. vulgaris showed the most potent and specific antiplasmodial action (IC50=4.7 µg/mL, SI=28.9). Phytochemical characterization of active extracts confirmed the presence of triterpenoids in B. vulgaris and polar compounds with phenol free groups and fluorescent metabolites in both extracts as major phytocompounds, by thin layer chromatography. In conclusion, antimalarial use of B. vulgaris and P. hysterophorus was validated. B. vulgaris and P. granatum extracts were selected for follow-up because of their strong antimalarial activity.