Screening of Latin American plants for antiparasitic activities against malaria, Chagas disease, and leishmaniasis

Ángela I. Calderón, Luz I. Romero, Eduardo Ortega-Barría, Pablo N. Solís, Susana Zacchino, Alberto José Gimenez Turba, Roberto Pinzón, Armando Cáceres, Giselle Tamayo, Carlos Guerra, Alex Espinosa, Mireya Correa, Mahabir P. Gupta

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27 Scopus citations


In order to explore rationally the medical potential of the plant biodiversity of the Central and South American region as a source of novel antiparasitic molecules, a multinational Organization of American States (OAS) project, which included the participation of multidisciplinary research centers from Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama, was carried out during the period 2001-2004. This project aimed at screening organic plant extracts for antitrypanosomal, antileishmanial and antimalarial activities and subsequently isolating and characterizing bioactive molecules. Plants for antiparasitic screening were selected from a database of ethnomedical uses of Latin American plants (PlanMedia) based on the amount of biological and chemical information available in the literature. We report here the evaluation of 452 extracts from 311 plant species in vitro screens against Plasmodium falciparum, Leishmania mexicana, and Trypanosoma cruzi. Out of 311 species tested, 17 plants (5.4%) showed antiparasitic activities at IC50 values≤10g/mL. The most active plants were Acnistus arborescens (L.) Schltdl. (Solanaceae) (leaf, EtOH, IC50: 4g/mL) Monochaetum myrtoideum Naudin (Melastomataceae) (leaf, MeOH, IC50: 5g/mL) and Bourreria huanita (Lex.) Hemsl. (Boraginaceae) (branch, EtOH, IC50: 6g/mL). These were selectively active against P. falciparum, L. mexicana and T. cruzi, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)545-553
Number of pages9
JournalPharmaceutical Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Organization of American States (OAS) through the multinational project “Aprovechamiento de la Flora Regional como Fuente de Moléculas Antifúngicas, Antiparasitarias y Anticancer” (SEDI/AICD/106/01).


  • Antiparasitic activity
  • Chagas disease
  • Latin America
  • Leishmaniasis
  • Malaria
  • Screening


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