Leishmanial diseases, posing a public health problem worldwide, are caused by Leishmania parasites with a dimorphic life cycle alternating between the promastigote and amastigote forms. Promastigotes transmitted by the vector are transformed into amastigotes residing in the host tissue macrophages. Presently, new antiparasitic agents are needed against Leishmania donovani and Leishmania major, the respective organisms causing visceral and cutaneous leishmaniasis, since the available treatments are unsatisfactory due to toxicity, high cost, and emerging drug resistance. Over the years, traditional medicinal flora throughout the world enriched the modern pharmacopeia. Hence, roots of ‘Indian Valerian’ (Valeriana wallichii DC) were studied for its antileishmanial activity for the first time. The methanol and chloroform extracts showed activity against L. donovani promastigotes and both promastigotes and amastigotes of L. major. The most active fraction, F3, obtained from the chloroform extract, showed IC50 at ∼3–7 μg/ml against both the promastigotes and 0.3 μg/ml against L. major amastigotes. On investigation of the mechanism of cytotoxicity in L. donovani promastigotes, the ‘hall-mark’ events of morphological degeneration, DNA fragmentation, externalization of phosphatidyl serine, and mitochondrial membrane depolarization indicated that F3 could induce apoptotic death in leishmanial cells. Therefore, the present study revealed a novel and unconventional property of V. wallichii root as a prospective source of effective antileishmanial agents.
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The authors would like to thank Dr. R. D. Singh, IHBT, Palampur, for authentication of plant sample. Prof. P. K. Sen, Bose Institute, and Dr. B. Mukherjee, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, are acknowledged for providing instrumental facility.
BH received financial support from Defense Research & Development Organisation (LSRB-166/ID/2008), Indian Council of Medical Research (3/1/3/WL/JRF/2008/MPD), and Department of Atomic Energy (2008/37/30/BRNS). Financial support by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (SFB 630) given to UH and HM is gratefully acknowledged. BH and UH thank DST-DAAD for an exchange visit award.
The authors declare that the experiments comply with the current laws of the country in which they were performed.
Conflicts of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
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Ghosh, S., Debnath, S., Hazra, S. et al. Valeriana wallichii root extracts and fractions with activity against Leishmania spp. Parasitol Res 108, 861–871 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-010-2127-0
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