In vitro cytotoxicity and genotoxicity of five Ochna species (Ochnaceae) with excellent antibacterial activity

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Extracts and fractions of some Ochna species had excellent antibacterial activity. Before considering the potential therapeutic use of these extracts it is important to determine the safety of extracts. The cytotoxicity of Ochna natalitia, Ochna pretoriensis, Ochna pulchra, Ochna gamostigmata, and Ochna serrulata (Ochnaceae) was determined in monkey kidney (Vero) cells, human hepatocellular carcinoma (C3A) cells and bovine dermis cells using the mitochondrial viability MTT assay. Their potential mutagenic effects were also determined using the Ames test with strains Salmonella typhimurium TA98 and TA100 with and without metabolic activation. The LC50 values (the lethal concentration at which 50% of the cells are killed) of the extracts on the various cell lines ranged from 26 to 99μg/ml. None of the plant species was mutagenic (mutagenic index values≤1.59 for TA98 and ≤0.92 for TA100). In a previous study, we determined the antibacterial activity of the five extracts against Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Enterococcus faecalis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. From this we calculated the selectivity index (SI) values by dividing the LC50 value by the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) to obtain the ratio of toxicity to bioactivity of each extract. The plant extracts had low SI values≤1.307. This is a clear indication of non-selective toxicity, i.e. extracts are almost equally toxic to the bacteria and mammalian cell lines used in the assays. As a result, the extracts may have limited application as ingestible or intravenous therapeutic agents based on the in vitro findings. However, it may be necessary to also evaluate in vivo toxicity of the extracts in animal models as in vitro toxicity does not always equate to in vivo toxicity because of the difference in physiological microenvironment in live animals and tissue culture. Additionally, if it is the case that the toxic compounds are not the same as the active compounds, it may be possible to potentiate the extracts by the removal of toxic compounds and concentration of active compounds. The extracts may then be useful for development into treatments for topical bacterial infections. © 2013 South African Association of Botanists.




Makhafola, T. J., McGaw, L. J., & Eloff, J. N. (2014). In vitro cytotoxicity and genotoxicity of five Ochna species (Ochnaceae) with excellent antibacterial activity. South African Journal of Botany, 91, 9–13.

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