Antibacterial and antifungal activities of extracts of combretum molle

Kaleab Asres, Avijit Mazumder, Franz Bucar
Ethiopian Medical Journal 2006, 44 (3): 269-77

OBJECTIVE: In traditional medical practices of Ethiopia the aqueous extracts obtained from the stem bark of Combretum molle (R. Br. Ex. G. Don.) Engl & Diels (Combretaceae) have a longstanding reputation for the treatment of liver diseases malaria and tuberculosis. Owing to the widespread traditional uses of this plant, the studyinvestigated the antimicrobial activity the bark extract of this plant against Gram positive and and Gram negative bacteria.

METHODS: Petroleum ether, dichloromethane and acetone fractions of the bark of the plant were prepared by soxhlet extraction and screened for their antimicrobial activity. The acetone fraction exhibited a powerful activity and was therefore further tested against twenty-one bacterial and six fungal strains. The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of this extract was determined by checker board technique using nutrient agar medium. The zones of inhibition produced by the extract against bacteria and fungi were determined and compared by disc diffusion technique with those of pure ciprofloxacin and griseofulvin, respectively.

RESULTS: The highest antibacterial action of the acetone extract was against the Gram negative organisms EscherIchia coli and Shigella spp with an MIC value of 50 mg/ml. The activity of the extract against these bacteria was comparable to that of ciprofloxacin when assessed by the disc diffusion technique. Among the fungal strains tested Candida albicans showed high susceptibility to the extract and growth was completely inhibited at a concentration of 400 microg/ml. At the same concentration, the acetone extract and the standard antifungal drug griseofulvin produced comparable zones of inhibition on C. albicans. Studies on the mode of action of the extract indicated that it was bactericidal and fungicidal. The antimicrobial activity of the extract was attributed to the high amount of hydrolysable tannins present in the bark of the plant.

CONCLUSION: The acetone extract of the stem bark of C. molle has the potential for use as a natural antimicrobial agent. Further in vivo antimicrobial, phytochemical and toxicological studies are requireed to evaluate the chemotherapeutic effect of the plant.

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