Antimalarial and cytotoxic potential of four quassinoids from Hannoa chlorantha and Hannoa klaineana, and their structure-activity relationships

Int J Parasitol. 1998 Apr;28(4):635-40. doi: 10.1016/s0020-7519(98)00008-3.


Hannoa chlorantha and Hannoa klaineana (Simaroubaceae) are used in traditional medicine of Central African countries against fevers and malaria. Four stem bark extracts from H. klaineana and four quassinoids from H. chlorantha were examined in vitro against Plasmodium falciparum NF 54. The extracts displayed good activities, while the quassinoids were highly active, with IC50 values well below 1 microgram ml-1, those of chaparrinone and 15-desacetylundulatone being much lower than 0.1 microgram ml-1 (0.037 and 0.047 microgram ml-1, respectively). Chaparrinone is five times more active than 14-hydroxychaparrinone against P. falciparum, indicating that the hydroxyl function at C-14 is unfavourable for antiplasmodial activity. As 14-hydroxychaparrinone has a seven-times higher cytotoxic activity against P-388 cells than chaparrinone, the latter compound has the better antiplasmodial therapeutic index. All four quassinoids were evaluated in vivo in a standard 4-day test as well. 15-Desacetylundulatone was proven to be the most active compound, almost totally suppressing the parasitaemias of OF1 mice for at least 7 days, while both chaparrinone and 14-hydroxychaparrinone were active for at least 4 days. Quassinoids have ED50 values much lower than 50 mg kg-1 body weight day-1 and none of them caused obvious side effects. The keto function at C-2 in 15-desacetylundulatone is apparently of crucial importance for its high activity. 6-alpha-Tigloyloxyglaucarubol was not active at all. Chaparrinone is considered the most interesting of the investigated quassinoids and its in-vivo antimalarial potential will be examined further.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antimalarials / chemistry
  • Antimalarials / pharmacology*
  • Antimalarials / toxicity
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Female
  • Glaucarubin / analogs & derivatives
  • Glaucarubin / chemistry
  • Glaucarubin / pharmacology
  • Glaucarubin / toxicity
  • Leukemia P388
  • Malaria / drug therapy*
  • Mice
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / toxicity
  • Plant Roots / chemistry
  • Plants, Medicinal* / chemistry
  • Plasmodium berghei / drug effects*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / drug effects*
  • Quassins*
  • Seeds / chemistry
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antimalarials
  • Plant Extracts
  • Quassins
  • chaparrinone
  • Glaucarubin