Background & objectives: India has an extensive area of forest enriched with plant diversity. Several of these plants have been used as folklore medicines. However, the medicinal plants have rarely been investigated for anti-human immunodeficiency virus activity. Hence, some Indian medicinal plants were screened in vitro against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Methods: The inhibitory effect of plant extracts on HIV replication was monitored in terms of inhibition of virus induced cytopathogenicity in MT-4 cells. The MT-4 cells were infected with HIV. The HIV infected or mock infected MT-4 cells were incubated at 37 degrees C in a CO2 incubator in the presence of the plant extracts. After five days, cell viability was measured by tetrazolium based colorimetric assay.
Results & interpretation: Of the 69 plant species screened, 16 were effective against HIV-1 and 4 were against both HIV-1 and HIV-2. The most effective extracts against HIV-1 and HIV-2 are respectively Cinnamomum cassia (bark) and Cardiospermum helicacabum (shoot + fruit). The findings provide a rationale for further studies on isolation of active principles and pharmacological evaluation.