Phytochemical analysis and biological activities of crude extracts from selected Tulbaghia species

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Takaidza, Samkeliso
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Vaal University of Technology
The genus Tulbaghia has been used in traditional medicine to treat various ailments such as fever, earache, tuberculosis and esophageal cancer. However, there is limited scientific evidence to support its use. Therefore the objectives of this study were to perform phytochemical analysis, investigate the antioxidant, antimicrobial, anticancer, immunomodulatory activities and toxicity of crude acetone and water extracts from selected Tulbaghia species. Standard methods were used for preliminary phytochemical analysis. The total phenolic content of the plant extracts was determined using the folin ciocalteu method whereas the total flavonoids were determined by using the aluminium chloride colorimetric method. DPPH and ABTS assays were used to evaluate the antioxidant activity. The antimicrobial activity was assessed by agar well diffusion, microtiter dilution and time kill assays. For anticancer studies, the antiproliferative activity of the extracts was evaluated using the MTT assay on Hkesc-1 and KB cells. Morphological changes of the cancer cells treated with extracts were examined using light microscopy. Induction of apoptosis was assessed using fluorescence microscopy and acridine orange/ethidium bromide staining. Flow cytometry analysis was conducted to examine the multicaspase activity and cell cycle arrest. For immunomodulatory activity, the Greiss reagent and Luminex cytokine assays were used to determine the effect of the extracts on NO production and the concentration of the cytokines in the treated cells, respectively. Toxicity of selected Tulbaghia species was examined by investigating the effect of the extracts on the metabolic activity and cell membrane integrity on the treated RAW264.7 cells using the MTT and LDH assays, respectively. The zebrafish assay was used to evaluate the embryotoxicity and teratogenic effects of crude acetone and water extracts of T. violacea at 24 h intervals for 96 h post fertilisation (hpf). The percentage mortality, hatchability and heart rate were examined. Phytochemical screening of eight Tulbaghia species demonstrated the presence of flavonoids, glycosides, tannins, terpenoids, saponins and steroids. The amount of total phenol and flavonoid content varied in different plant extracts ranging from 4.50 to 11.10 milligrams gallic acid equivalent per gram (mg GAE/g) of fresh material and 3.04 to 9.65 milligrams quercetin equivalent per gram (mg QE/g) of fresh material respectively. The IC50 values based on DPPH and ABTS for T. alliacea (0.06 and 0.06 mg/mL) and T. violacea (0.08 and 0.03 mg/mL) were generally lower showing potential antioxidant activities. For antimicrobial activity, the acetone extracts of T. acutiloba, T. alliacea, T. leucantha, T. ludwigiana, T. natalensis and T. simmleri showed moderate antimicrobial activity against all test organisms while the water extracts showed moderate to no activity. One species, T. cernua, showed poor activity against all the tested microbes. The acetone and water extracts of T. violacea showed the greatest antibacterial and antifungal activity against all the tested microorganisms with minimum inhibitory concentration ranging from 0.1 mg/mL to 3.13 mg/mL. The acetone extracts of T. violacea also exhibited both bacteriostatic/fungistatic and bactericidal/fungicidal activity depending on the incubation time and concentration of the extract. The bactericidal/fungicidal activity was observed at x2 MIC. The results for anticancer activity showed that treatment of Hkesc-1 cells with acetone and water crude extracts had anti-proliferative activity with IC50 values of 0.4 mg/mL and 1.625 mg/mL, respectively while KB had 0.2 mg/mL and 1 mg/mL, respectively. Morphological changes such as blebbing, cell shrinkage and rounding were observed in the treated cells suggesting that apoptosis was taking place. AOEB staining showed that the level of apoptosis was dependent on the concentration of the extracts. The activation of multicaspase activity in both Hkesc-1 and KB treated cells was also concentration dependent leading to cell death by apoptosis and the induction of cell cycle arrest at the G2/M phase. Immunomodulatory activity results indicated that cell viability was above 80% when concentrations of 50 µg/mL or less of both acetone and water crude was used. Treatment with the acetone extract had no significant effect (p>0.05) on the LPS induced NO production in RAW264.7 cells except at 50 µg/mL where significant inhibition was observed. The water extract had no significant effect (p>0.05) on NO production at all the concentrations. Treatment of LPS–induced RAW264.7 cells with acetone extract stimulated the production of IL-1α, IL-6 and TNF-α, but had no significant effect (p > 0.05) on IL-1β. On the other hand, treatment with the water extracts stimulated the production of IL-1α, IL-6 but had no significant effect (p>0.05) on TNF-α and IL-1β. Treatment of LPS-induced RAW264.7 cells with the acetone extract had very little stimulatory effect on IL-4, IL-5 and IL-13 and no significant effect on IL-10 whereas for the water extract a significant stimulatory effect was only observed for IL-4 after 48 h of treatment. High concentrations (>10000 pg/mL) of MCP-1, MIP1-α, MIP1-β, MIP-2, GCSF, GM-CSF, RANTES and IP-10 were also observed in acetone and water extract treated RAW264.7 cells. For toxicity studies, acetone and aqueous crude leaf extracts from T. alliacea, T. simmleri, and T. violacea had a significant inhibitory (p<0.05) effect on the RAW264.7 cells after 48h treatment. Acetone extracts from T. alliacea, T. simmleri and T. violacea resulted in IC50 values of 0.48 mg/mL, 0.72 mg/mL and 0.1 mg/mL, respectively. Treatment with water extracts showed minimal toxic effect indicated by higher IC50 values of 0.95 mg/mL, 2.49 mg/mL and 0.3 mg/mL for T. alliacea, T. simmleri and T. violacea, respectively. The LDH release by macrophages after 24 h treatment with acetone extracts was observed to be concentration dependent while treatment with water extracts did not induce LDH release. The zebra fish assay showed a lethal dose (LD50) for the T. violacea acetone crude extract of 20 μg/mL whereas that for water extract was 85 μg/mL. The observed teratogenic effects included scoliosis, edema of the pericardial cavity, retarded yolk resorption, hook-like/bent tail and shorter body length. In conclusion, the results from this study indicate that the extracts from the eight Tulbaghia species examined contain phytochemicals that may have the antioxidant, antimicrobial, anticancer and immunomodulatory properties. Extracts from T. violacea were observed to be the most potent. This study thus supports the use of T. violacea in treating bacterial and fungal infections in traditional medicine. The results of this study also confirm the anticancer potential of T. violacea. The immunomodulatory activity of the acetone and water extracts from T. violacea indicated a dominantly pro-inflammatory activity. Traditional medicine prepared form T. violacea may be of benefit to individuals with weak immune systems. The toxicity of selected Tulbaghia species was observed to be concentration, extract and time dependent. Therefore, traditional medicine prepared from Tulbaghia extracts should be taken with caution preferably in small doses over a short period of time. Future studies will focus on the identification of the bioactive compound(s) responsible for the antimicrobial, anticancer and immunomodulatory activities.
Ph. D. (Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Applied and Computer Sciences), Vaal University of Technology.
Antioxidant activities, Anticancer activity, Apoptosis, Bacteriostatic, Cytokines, Embryotoxicity, Esophageal cancer, Fungicidal, LDH, Lipopolysaccharide, Macrophages, Multicaspase, Immunomodulation, Phenolic compounds, Zebrafish