In the endeavor to obtain new antitrypanosomal agents, particularly sesquiterpene lactones, from Kenyan plants of the family Asteraceae, Vernonia cinerascens Sch. Bip. was investigated. Bioactivity-guided fractionation and isolation in conjunction with LC/MS-based dereplication has led to the identification of vernodalol (1) and isolation of vernodalin (2), 11β,13-dihydrovernodalin (3), 11β,13-dihydrovernolide (4), vernolide (5), 11β,13-dihydrohydroxyvernolide (6), hydroxyvernolide (7), and a new germacrolide type sesquiterpene lactone vernocinerascolide (8) from the dichloromethane extract of V. cinerascens leaves. Compounds 3-8 were characterized by extensive analysis of their 1D and 2D NMR spectroscopic and HR/MS spectrometric data. All the compounds were evaluated for their in vitro biological activity against bloodstream forms of Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense and for cytotoxicity against the mammalian cell line L6. Vernodalin (2) was the most active compound with an IC50 value of 0.16 µM and a selectivity index of 35. Its closely related congener 11β,13-dihydrovernodalin (3) registered an IC50 value of 1.1 µM and a selectivity index of 4.2.
Keywords: Asteraceae; Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense; Vernonia cinerascens; antitrypanosomal activity; sesquiterpene lactones.