Antimicrobial, Cytotoxic and Oxidative Stress Inhibitory Activities of Terpenoids and Flavonols from Senegalia nigrescens (Oliv.) P.J.H. Hurter

Document Type : Research article


Department of Agriculture and Animal Health, University of South Africa, Florida Campus, Florida, 1710, South Africa.



Senegalia nigrescens (knob thorn) is a deciduous tree distributed in savannah regions from Tanzania to South Africa used for timber but also medicinally for the treatment of convulsions, wounds, and skin problems. In this study, the biological activities of six phytocompounds, namely: 3β-hydroxy-20(29)-en-lupan-30-al (1), 30-hydroxylup-20(29)-en-3β-ol (2), ent-kaur-15-en-18,20-diol (3), melanoxetin (4), quercetin (5) and quercetin-3-O-methyl ether (6), isolated from S. nigrescens were investigated. The compounds were screened against two bacterial (Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus) and one fungal (Candida albicans) strain and were also tested for their cytotoxicity on breast cancer (MDA-MB-231) and normal murine macrophage (RAW 264.7) cell line. Effects of the compounds on attenuating the lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) production in RAW 264.7 cells were quantified with the H2DCF-DA assay. This study revealed that flavonols (5 and 6) had the strongest antibacterial and antifungal effects, both having MIC values of 62.5, 31.25 and 31.25 µg/mL on E. coli, S. aureus and C. albicans, respectively. Compounds 2, 3 and 6 were the most cytotoxic against the breast cancer cells with IC50 values of 11.86, 12.62 and 14.03 µg/mL, respectively, while the least toxicity towards normal cells were observed in compounds 2, 5 and 6. All compounds (1-6) significantly lowered ROS production in RAW264.7 cells. In conclusion, tested compounds represent potential promising candidates as antimicrobial, anticancer and antidotes for LPS-induced oxidative stress. This is the first report on the antifungal, cytotoxicity and antioxidative activities of the ent-kaurene diterpenoid, ent-kaur-15-en-18,20-diol (3).

Graphical Abstract

Antimicrobial, Cytotoxic and Oxidative Stress Inhibitory Activities of Terpenoids and Flavonols from Senegalia nigrescens (Oliv.) P.J.H. Hurter


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