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The potential of anti-malarial compounds derived from African medicinal plants. Part I: A pharmacological evaluation of alkaloids and terpenoids

Pascal Amoa Onguéné1, Fidele Ntie-Kang2, Lydia Likowo Lifongo2, Jean Claude Ndom1, Wolfgang Sippl3 and Luc Meva’a Mbaze1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, University of Douala, PO Box 24157, Douala, Cameroon

2 Chemical and Bioactivity Information Centre, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, University of Buea, PO Box 63, Buea, Cameroon

3 Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Martin-Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, Wolfgang-Langenbeck Str. 4, Halle, Saale 06120, Germany

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Malaria Journal 2013, 12:449  doi:10.1186/1475-2875-12-449

Published: 13 December 2013


Traditional medicine caters for about 80% of the health care needs of many rural populations around the world, especially in developing countries. In addition, plant-derived compounds have played key roles in drug discovery. Malaria is currently a public health concern in many countries in the world due to factors such as chemotherapy faced by resistance, poor hygienic conditions, poorly managed vector control programmes and no approved vaccines. In this review, an attempt has been made to assess the value of African medicinal plants for drug discovery by discussing the anti-malarial virtue of the derived phytochemicals that have been tested by in vitro and in vivo assays. This survey was focused on pure compounds derived from African flora which have exhibited anti-malarial properties with activities ranging from “very active” to “weakly active”. However, only the compounds which showed anti-malarial activities from “very active” to “moderately active” are discussed in this review. The activity of 278 compounds, mainly alkaloids, terpenoids, flavonoids, coumarines, phenolics, polyacetylenes, xanthones, quinones, steroids, and lignans have been discussed. The first part of this review series covers the activity of 171 compounds belonging to the alkaloid and terpenoid classes. Data available in the literature indicated that African flora hold an enormous potential for the development of phytomedicines for malaria.

Africa; Malaria; Medicinal plants; Natural products; Traditional medicine