Adansonia digitata (Baobab) is a traditional African medicinal plant with numerous applications, including treatment of symptoms of infectious diseases. Standardized commercial preparations of Adansonia digitata leaves, fruit-pulp and seeds were acquired and extracted with three different solvents, water, methanol and DMSO. The extracts were compared quantitatively for antiviral MIC100 (minimal inhibitory concentration) values against influenza virus, herpes simplex virus and respiratory syncytial virus and for their effects on cytokine secretion (IL-6 and IL-8) in human epithelial cell cultures. The leaf extracts had the most potent antiviral properties, especially the DMSO extracts and influenza virus was the most susceptible virus. Pulp and seed extracts were less active but significant. Cytotoxic activities were only evident at much higher concentrations of extract. Several of the extracts, especially leaf extracts, were also active as cytokine modulators, some being pro-inflammatory and others being anti-inflammatory. The results overall indicated the presence of multiple bioactive compounds in different parts of the plant and these activities could explain some of the medical benefits attributed to traditional leaf and pulp preparations, in the treatment of infectious diseases and inflammatory conditions.
Key words: Adansonia digitata, Baobab, antiviral, inflammatory, cytokines.
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