Antimicrobial and antimalarial activity of Cussonia species (Araliaceae)

B. J. De Villiers, S. F. Van Vuuren, R. L. Van Zyl, B. E. Van Wyk

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24 Citations (Scopus)


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Cussonia species are used in African traditional medicine mainly against pain, inflammation, gastro-intestinal problems, malaria and sexually transmitted diseases. Aim of the study: To summarise ethnomedicinal uses of Cussonia and to find scientific evidence in support of selected main uses. Materials and methods: Using the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) method, leaves of 13 Cussonia species, Schefflera umbellifera and Seemannaralia gerrardii were tested against pathogens associated with diarrhoea (Enterococcus faecalis and Escherichia coli), sexually transmitted infections (Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Trichomonas vaginalis) and general infectious diseases (Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa). Antimalarial sensitivity was studied using Plasmodium falciparum and the [3H]-hypoxanthine incorporation assay. Cytotoxic effects on a T-cell leukaemia (Jurkat) cell line were determined using the tetrazolium-based cellular toxicity assay. Results: Methanolic extracts were active against Pseudomonas aeruginosa (MIC of 1.0-1.5. mg/mL), Trichomonas vaginalis (MIC of 0.8-1.3. mg/mL) and Staphylococcus aureus (Cussonia arborea, 1.8. mg/mL). All samples were active against Neisseria gonorrhoeae (MIC of 0.02-0.7. mg/mL). The methanol extract of Cussonia arborea was the most active against Plasmodium falciparum (13.68 μg/mL) and showed anticancer properties (5.60 μg/mL). Conclusions: The traditional use of Cussonia species to treat sexually transmitted diseases and Plasmodium infections appears to have a scientific basis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-196
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Ethnopharmacology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2010


  • Araliaceae
  • Cytotoxicity
  • Falciparum
  • Malaria
  • Microbial sensitivity tests
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae
  • Sexually transmitted infections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery


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