African Journal of
Pharmacy and Pharmacology

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Pharm. Pharmacol.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0816
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJPP
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 2277

Full Length Research Paper

Assessment of potential toxicity of three South African medicinal plants using the brine shrimp (Artemia salina) assay

Wilfred M. Otang1, Donald S. Grierson1* and Roland N. Ndip1,2
1School of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science and Agriculture, University of Fort Hare, P/Bag X1314, Alice 5700, South Africa. 2Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, Faculty of Science, University of Buea, Box 63 Buea, Cameroon.
Email: [email protected].

  •  Accepted: 30 April 2013
  •  Published: 29 May 2013


As the use of medicinal plants increases, screening of their toxicity is crucial to guarantee the safety of the users. Hexane and acetone extracts of three South African plants, traditionally used for the management of opportunistic fungal infections in human immune deficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) patients were assayed for toxicity to hatching and larval mortality of Artemia salina. Lowest percentage values of hatching success were observed in cysts incubated with hexane and acetone extracts of Arctotis arctotoides,respectively and were significantly lower (P < 0.05) than that of the positive control (amphotericin B). Based on Meyer’s toxicity index, both extracts of Pittosporum viridiflorumand the acetone extract of A. arctotoides with LC50 values > 1 mg/ml were considered as non-toxic and may be further explored for development of plant-based pharmaceuticals. The hexane and acetone extracts of A. arctotoides and the hexane extract of Gasteria bicolor with LC50 values < 1 mg/ml have shown significant biological activity, indicative of the presence of potent cytotoxic components which warrant further investigation. The in vivo lethality of A. salina has been used as a convenient toxicological screening system, while the resistance to harmful effects by Artemia cysts made the hatchability assay less desirable than the lethality test.


Key words: Medicinal plants, Artemia salina, hatchability assay, lethality test.