Phytochemical analysis, in vitro anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activity of Pilistigma thonningii leaf extracts from Benin
The leaves of Piliostigma thonningii are used in traditional medicine in Benin to treat inflammatory skin diseases and infections. So far, pharmacological studies of the anti-inflammatory and anti-infective effects of phytochemically characterized extracts of P. thonningii have been very limited. Therefore, we investigated the in vitro anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effect of P. thonningii leaf extracts and analyzed the phytochemical composition of extracts of different polarities (water, 50% ethanol, and n-hexane). Quercetin-3-O-rhamnoside was confirmed as the main flavonoid in the polar extracts. GC-MS analysis identified 20 constituents of the aqueous extract and 28 lipophilic compounds of the n-hexane extract by comparison with authentic standards and spectral library data. The aqueous P. thonningii leaf extract inhibited the IL-8 and IL-6 secretion in TNF-a-stimulated HaCaT cells in a concentration-dependent manner with IC50 values of 74 µg/mL for IL-8 and 89 µg/mL for IL-6. However, an inhibitory effect of the identified quercetin-3-O-rhamnoside and its aglycone, quercetin, on the release of IL-8 and IL-6 could not be demonstrated. In the antimicrobial screening, inhibition zones for a 50% EtOH leaf extract of P. thonningii were found for Staphylococcus epidermidis, Staphylococcus aureus, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and Escherichia coli. For none of the microbial strains, however, the MIC was below 500 µg/mL, so that the antibacterial activity must be classified as low. As a result, our investigations primarily support the ethnomedical use of P. thonningii leaf extracts in topical inflammatory conditions. Further studies are required to identify the compounds responsible for the in vitro anti-inflammatory effects.