Antiplasmodial activity of the ethnobotanical plant Cassia fistula

Nat Prod Commun. 2012 Oct;7(10):1263-6.


In our ongoing investigation of new compounds with activity against malaria parasites, we tested the in vitro antiplasmodial activity of fractions and purified compounds from Cassia fistula L., a plant traditionally used by native populations of Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Brazil to treat malaria or symptoms associated with this disease. Crude extracts from leaves, bark and fruits were tested for their antiplasmodial activity against the chloroquine-sensitive strain of Plasmodium falciparum (D10), where leaf extracts showed the highest activity. The chloroform extract of the leaves was further bioassay-guided fractionated using a combination of centrifugal partition chromatography and flash column chromatography. Three main antiplasmodial principles, phytol (1) (IC50 18.9 +/- 0.60 microM), lutein (2) (IC50 12.5 +/- 0.35 microM), and di-lineolylgalactopyranosyl-glycerol (DLGG) (IC50 5.8 +/- 0.27 microM) (3), were isolated and identified using spectroscopic methods. When the three active principles were tested for their cytotoxicity using a Chinese Hamster Ovarian (CHO) cell line, compound 3 showed very weak toxicity (IC50 75.9 +/- 0.28 microM), while the other two compounds were nontoxic, even at the highest concentration tested. The study provides evidence to support the use of Cassia fistula as an antimalarial remedy and describes the antiplasmodial constituents from the leaves.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antimalarials / isolation & purification*
  • Antimalarials / pharmacology*
  • CHO Cells
  • Cassia / chemistry*
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Chloroquine / pharmacology
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Cricetinae
  • Cricetulus
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Lutein / chemistry
  • Lutein / isolation & purification
  • Phytol / chemistry
  • Phytol / isolation & purification
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry
  • Plasmodium falciparum / drug effects*
  • Solvents


  • Antimalarials
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Plant Extracts
  • Solvents
  • Phytol
  • Chloroquine
  • Lutein