Frontiers in Clinical Drug Research: Anti-Infectives

Volume: 7

Development of Antimalarial and Antileishmanial Drugs from Amazonian Biodiversity

Author(s): Antônio R. Q. Gomes, Kelly C. O. Albuquerque, Heliton P. C. Brígido, Juliana Correa-Barbosa, Maria Fâni Dolabela and Sandro Percário * .

Pp: 127-172 (46)

DOI: 10.2174/9789814998093121070007


The search for therapeutic alternatives for the treatment of malaria and leishmaniasis is particularly important, given the increase in parasitic resistance to available drugs, as well as the high toxicity of those drugs. In this context, the Amazon region can make an important contribution through its high biodiversity of plants, many of which are informally used by local populations for the treatment of malaria, and leishmaniasis. This chapter aims to describe the main Amazonian species used to treat malaria and leishmaniasis in Brazilian folk medicine, relating ethnobotanical results to chemical studies, evaluation of activities, and toxicity. Different studies report the treatment of malaria with plants, with the most cited species being Aspidosperma nitidum Benth. (Apocynaceae); Geissospermum sericeum (Sagot.) Benth & Hook (Apocynaceae); Euterpe precatoria Mart. (Arecaceae); Persea americana Mill (Lauraceae); Bertholletia excelsa Bonpl (Lecythidaceae); Portulaca pilosa L. (Portulaceae); Ampelozizyphus amazonicus Ducke (Rhamnaceae). Additionally, traditional Amazonian populations use plants for the treatment of wounds, a clinical aspect associated with leishmaniasis, with the most cited genus being Copaiba and Jatropha. The antileishmanial activity of copaiba oil has been demonstrated, and it seems that this activity is related to terpenes. Another genus that deserves attention is Musa, used for the treatment of severe wounds. The leishmanicidal activity of triterpenes isolated from Musa paradisiaca and its anacardic acid and synthetic derivatives, which have been used against Leishmania infantum chagasi, was also tested. In summary, several isolated compounds of plants used in traditional Amazonian medicine are promising as antimalarial and antileishmanial drugs.

Keywords: Amazon, Aspidosperma nitidum, Bertholletia excelsa, Copaiba, Euterpe precatoria, Geissospermum sericeum, Jatropha gossypiifolia, Leishmaniasis, Malaria, Medicinal plants, Musa parasidiaca, Persea americana.

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