Antifungal and antileishmanial activities of fractions and isolated isoflavanquinones from the roots of Abrus precatorius

  • Emeka E. OkoroEmail author
  • Malik S. Ahmad
  • Omolaja R. Osoniyi
  • Funmilayo D. Onajobi
Original Article


Neglected tropical diseases hinder social and economic growth in many tropical areas. We report leishmanicidal activities of isoflavanquinones and antifungal potentials of fractions from methanol root extract of Abrus precatorius. Agar dilution method was used to determine antifungal properties while 96-well dilution protocol was adopted for antileishmanial activities. Ethyl acetate fraction of A. precatorius root extract showed moderate activity against M. canis and F. solani with percentage inhibition of 42.5% and 55.0% respectively while other fractions were inactive. Crude extract, n-hexane, and ethyl acetate fractions demonstrated potent antileishmanial activities with IC50 values of 22.20 ± 0.540 μg/mL, 19.35 ± 0.670 μg/mL, and 6.32 ± 0.001 μg/mL respectively, against L. major. The ethyl acetate fraction, which was the most active fraction, was subjected to successive column chromatography followed by preparative recycling HPLC in order to isolate the active constituents. Structures were established by HR-ESIMS, 1D and 2D NMR (1H, 13C, COSY, NOESY, HMBC, HSQC) spectroscopy. Two compounds were obtained and identified as isoflavanquinones: abruquinone A (1) and abruquinone B (2). Compounds 1 and 2 demonstrated significant (p < 0.05) antileishmanial activity against L. major (IC50 6.35 ± 0.005 μg/mL and 6.32 ± 0.008 μg/mL respectively) and L. tropica (IC50 6.29 ± 0.015 μg/mL and 6.31 ± 0.005 μg/mL, respectively). This appears to be the first report of antileishmanial activity of compounds 1 and 2 from the genus Abrus against cutaneous leishmaniasis and validates the use of A. precatorius in treating dermatology diseases.


Abrus precatorius Antifungal Isoflavanquinones Leishmania Neglected tropical diseases 



EEO acknowledges the World Academy of Sciences for the advancement of Science in Developing Countries (TWAS), Trieste, Italy, for ICCBS-TWAS Fellowship (2018) at the H.E.J. Research Institute of Chemistry, ICCBS, University of Karachi, Karachi, Pakistan.

Authors’ contributions

EEO conceptualized and designed the research work; EEO carried out the assays, analyzed data, and wrote the article manuscript, MSA elucidated the chemical structures; MSA, ORO, and FDO proofread the article manuscript.

Funding information

This research work was fully funded by the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences, ICCBS, University of Karachi, Karachi, Pakistan and The World Academy of Science (TWAS) Trieste, Italy, for the advancement of Science in Developing Countries.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

Not required

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biochemistry DepartmentBabcock University Ilishan-RemoIkejaNigeria
  2. 2.Dr. Panjwani Center for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research (PCMD), International Center for Chemical and Biological SciencesUniversity of KarachiKarachiPakistan
  3. 3.H.E.J. Research Institute of ChemistryUniversity of KarachiKarachiPakistan
  4. 4.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyObafemi Awolowo UniversityIle IfeNigeria

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