Evaluation of the Therapeutic Potential of Warburgia ugandensis, Prunus africana, and Piliostigma thonningii against Leishmania donovani in vitro and in Balb/c Mice

Maria Divinah Mogaka (Department of Zoological Sciences of the School of Pure and Applied Sciences, Kenyatta University, Kenya)
Joshua M. Mutiso (Department of Zoological Sciences of the School of Pure and Applied Sciences, Kenyatta University, Kenya)
John C. Macharia (Department of Tropical and Infectious Diseases, Institute of Primate Research, Kenya)
Rebecca M. Ayako (Department of Zoological Sciences of the School of Pure and Applied Sciences, Kenyatta University, Kenya)
Bernard Osero (Centre for Biotechnology Research and Development, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Kenya)
Michael M. Gicheru (Department of Zoological Sciences of the School of Pure and Applied Sciences, Kenyatta University, Kenya)

Article ID: 4926

DOI: https://doi.org/10.30564/jzr.v4i4.4926


Leishmaniasis is a zoonotic disease caused by protozoan parasites of the genus Leishmania. Conventional chemotherapy remains to be the most preferred measure against leishmaniasis despite being associated with high toxicity and relapse rates. They are also expensive and require hospitalization. Plant-based compounds provide a better treatment alternative because they are effective, cheap, and less associated with toxicity and resistance. This study examined the therapeutic potential of Warburgia ugandensis, Prunus africana, and Piliostigma thonningii against Leishmania donovani infection in BALB/c mice. Anti-promastigote and toxicity studies were evaluated by incubating the test compound with promastigotes and Vero cells, respectively. Serum was obtained from the mice for total immunoglobulin gamma (IgG) quantification. For in vivo studies, the mice were infected with virulent Leishmania donovani then treated with methanolic extracts of Warburgia ugandensis, Prunus africana, and Piliostigma thonningii and control drug, pentostam (sodium stibogluconate). Treatment with the plant extracts and standard drug resulted to significant reduction in parasite burden. Outcomes in the mice treated with plant extracts were comparable to those treated with pentostam (P≥0.05). In the promastigote assay, all the test compounds killed more than half of the promastigotes at the highest concentration (500 µg/mL). Warburgia ugandensis, P. thonningii, and P. africana reduced the number of promastigotes from 2.0 × 106 to 7.7 × 103 , 72.0 × 103 , and 5.0 × 103 , respectively. Pentostam had the lowest IC50 (210 µg/mL), followed by Warburgia ugandensis (IC50 of 270 µg/mL). Piliostigma thonningii and P. africana were less toxic with IC50 of 720 µg/mL and 500 µg/mL, respectively. There was low production of IgG antibodies following treatment with the plant extracts and high levels in the untreated control.


Promastigotes; Amastigotes; Toxicity; Parasite burden; IgG antibodies

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