Holigarna caustica (Dennst.) Oken is used by the tribes of Northeast India for the treatment of intestinal problems. Therefore, the present study was undertaken to investigate the active principles of this plant responsible for its anthelmintic activity, using bioassay-guided fractionation. An ethanol extract of H. caustica fruit was fractionated on a silica gel column, followed by HPLC, while nematicidal activity was followed throughout on Caenorhabditis (C.) elegans as a model organism. Our study constitutes the first nematicidal report for this plant. Bioassay-guided purification led to the isolation of one compound (IC50 = 0.4 µM) as the only active constituent in the most active fraction. The compound was identified as linoleic acid based on spectroscopic data (1H and 13C NMR and ESI-MS). No cytotoxicity was observed in the crude extract or in linoleic acid (up to 356 µM). The results support the use of H. caustica for the treatment of intestinal problems by traditional healers in India.
Keywords: Caenorhabditis elegans; Holigarna caustica; anthelmintic; cytotoxicity; linoleic acid; nematicidal.