Scrophularia genus belonging to the family of Scrophulariaceae, is a medicinal plant widely distributed in Iran. In the present study, the anti-malarial activity of different extracts of three Iranian endemic species of Scrophularia including S. frigida, S. subaphylla and S. atropatana, was screened by an in-vitro preliminary assay. The plant materials were extracted successively with n-hexane, dichloromethane (DCM), and methanol (MeOH) at room temperature by soxhlet extractor. In order to assess anti-malarial activity of obtained extracts, cell free β-hematin formation assay was applied. Amongst the extracts, DCM extract of S. frigida exhibited remarkable anti-malarial activity with IC50 value of 0.67 ± 0.11 mg/mL. In contrast, MeOH and n-hexane extracts of all plants illustrated insignificant or moderate activity in this assay. Furthermore, preliminary phytochemical analysis along with TLC and GC-MS analysis of potent extract (DCM extract of S. frigida) were performed for more clarification. These methods revealed that the notable anti-malarial activity might be due to the presence of active constituents like methoxylated flavonoids, methylated coumarins, and diterpenoids. From the nine extracts of different species of Scrophularia, DCM extract of S. frigida showed potent inhibitory activity on β-hematin formation assay. Hence, it seems that it is noteworthy to concentrate on purifying the active chemical constituents of DCM extract and determining the pure anti-malarial components.
Keywords: Anti-malaria; Cell free assay; GC-MS; Preliminary phytochemical analysis; Scrophularia species.