Etnopharmacological relevance: Thirty-eight Tacana medicinal plant species used to treat skin problems, including leishmania ulcers, skin infections, inflammation and wound healing, were collected in the community of Buena Vista, Bolivia, with the Tacana people. Twenty two species are documented for the first time as medicinal plants for this ethnic group living in the northern area of the Department of La Paz. Aim of the study: To evaluate the leishmanicidal effect (IC50) and cytotoxicity (LD50) of the selected plants. To carry out bioguided studies on the active extracts. To assess the potential of Bolivian plant biodiversity associated with traditional knowledge in the discovery of alternative sources to fight leishmaniasis. Materials and methods: Seventy three ethanol extracts were prepared from 38 species by maceration and were evaluated in vitro against promastigotes of Leishmania amazonensis and L. braziliensis. Active extracts (IC50 ≤ 50 μg/mL) were fractionated by chromatography on Silica gel column and the fractions were assessed against the two Leishmania strains. The most active fractions and the crude extracts were evaluated against reference strains of L. amazonensis, L. braziliensis, L. aethiopica, two native strains (L. Lainsoni and L. braziliensis) and for cytotoxicity against HeLa cells. The chromatographic profile of the active fractions was obtained by reverse phase chromatography using HPLC. Results: From the 73 extracts, 39 extracts (53.4%) were inactive and 34 showed activity. Thirteen species were sselected for bioguided studies. The crude extracts and their 36 fractions were evaluated against two Leishmania strains. The most active fraction were tested in a panel of five leishmania strains and for cytotoxicity. The Selective Index (SI = LD50/IC50) was calculated, and were generally low. Retention time and UV spectra were recorded for the active fractions by HPLC-DAD using a reverse phase column. Profiles were very different from each other, showing the presence of different compounds. Conclusion: Bolivian traditional knowledge from the Tacanba was useful to identify plants with effect on Leishmania promastigotes. Chromatographic bioguided studies showed stronger leishmanicidal and cytotoxic activity for the medium polar fraction. HPLC analysis showed different chromatographic profiles of the active fractions.
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