Artemisinin-independent inhibitory activity of Artemisia sp. infusions against different Plasmodium stages including relapse-causing hypnozoites

Life Sci Alliance. 2021 Dec 2;5(3):e202101237. doi: 10.26508/lsa.202101237. Print 2022 Mar.


Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACT) are the frontline treatments against malaria worldwide. Recently the use of traditional infusions from Artemisia annua (from which artemisinin is obtained) or Artemisia afra (lacking artemisinin) has been controversially advocated. Such unregulated plant-based remedies are strongly discouraged as they might constitute sub-optimal therapies and promote drug resistance. Here, we conducted the first comparative study of the anti-malarial effects of both plant infusions in vitro against the asexual erythrocytic stages of Plasmodium falciparum and the pre-erythrocytic (i.e., liver) stages of various Plasmodium species. Low concentrations of either infusion accounted for significant inhibitory activities across every parasite species and stage studied. We show that these antiplasmodial effects were essentially artemisinin-independent and were additionally monitored by observations of the parasite apicoplast and mitochondrion. In particular, the infusions significantly incapacitated sporozoites, and for Plasmodium vivax and P. cynomolgi, disrupted the hypnozoites. This provides the first indication that compounds other than 8-aminoquinolines could be effective antimalarials against relapsing parasites. These observations advocate for further screening to uncover urgently needed novel antimalarial lead compounds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antimalarials / chemistry
  • Antimalarials / pharmacology*
  • Artemisia / chemistry*
  • Artemisinins / chemistry
  • Artemisinins / pharmacology*
  • Erythrocytes / drug effects
  • Erythrocytes / parasitology
  • Hepatocytes / drug effects
  • Hepatocytes / parasitology
  • Humans
  • Life Cycle Stages / drug effects
  • Malaria / drug therapy
  • Malaria / parasitology
  • Parasitic Sensitivity Tests
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plasmodium / drug effects*
  • Plasmodium / growth & development


  • Antimalarials
  • Artemisinins
  • Plant Extracts