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Synergistic in vitro antimalarial activity of plant extracts used as traditional herbal remedies in Mali

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In Mali, where malaria is endemic, plants are extensively used for treating periodic fevers and malaria. According to the advice of traditional medicine, plants are often mixed during the preparation of febrifugal decoctions. In previous studies, we demonstrated the potent in vitro antimalarial activity of extracts isolated from four plants commonly used in traditional remedies: Mitragyna inermis (Willd.) O. Kuntze, Rubiaceae, Nauclea latifolia (Sm.), Rubiaceae, Guiera senegalensis (Gmel.), Combretaceae, and Feretia apodanthera (Del.), Rubiaceae. In the present work, we evaluate the potent in vitro synergistic antimalarial interaction between these extracts, using standard isobologram analysis. Then, we evaluate their cytotoxicity on human monocytes and their mutagenic activity on an in vitro system of two beta-carboline alkaloids isolated from Guiera senegalensis (harman and tetrahydroharman). Three combinations demonstrate a strong, synergistic, inhibitory effect on in vitro plasmodial development and are devoid of cytotoxicity towards human cells. These results justify their use in association in traditional medicine. Moreover, tetrahydroharman, isolated from G. senegalensis, presents interesting antimalarial activity, no cytotoxicity and is not genotoxic in the Salmonella Ames test with and without metabolic activation.

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Azas, N., Laurencin, N., Delmas, F. et al. Synergistic in vitro antimalarial activity of plant extracts used as traditional herbal remedies in Mali. Parasitol Res 88, 165–171 (2002).

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