, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 21–35 | Cite as

The potential of selected South African plants with anti-Klebsiella activity for the treatment and prevention of Ankylosing spondylitis

  • I. E. Cock
  • S. F. van Vuuren
Research Article


A wide variety of herbal remedies are used in traditional African medicine to treat inflammatory disorders, including some autoimmune diseases. Thirty-four extracts from 13 South African plant species traditionally used for the treatment of inflam mation were investigated for their ability to control a microbial trigger for ankylosing spondylitis (Klebsiella pneumoniae). Twenty-six of the extracts (76.5 %) inhibited the growth of K. pneumoniae. Methanol and water extracts of Ballota africana, Carpobrotus edulis leaves, Kigellia africana, Lippia javanica, Pelargonium fasiculata, Syzygium cordatum (including bark), Terminalia pruinoides and Terminalia sericea were effective K. pneumoniae inhibitors, with MIC values <1000 µg/ml. The roots of Tulbaghia violaceae and bark from Warburgia salutaris also demonstrated efficacy. The most potent extracts were examined by RP-HPLC and UV–Vis spectroscopy for the presence of resveratrol. Methanolic extracts of B. africana, C. edulis leaves, L. javanica, T. pruinoides and T. sericea, as well as aqueous B. africana, T. pruinoides and T. sericea extracts, displayed peaks with retention times and UV–Vis spectra consistent with the presence of resveratrol. Resveratrol was generally a minor component, indicating that resveratrol was not solely responsible for the anti-Klebsiella growth inhibitory properties. Plant extracts with K. pneumoniae inhibitory activity were either non-toxic, or of low toxicity in the Artemia (brine shrimp) nauplii bioassay. Their low toxicity and antibiotic bioactivity against K. pneumoniae indicate their potential for both preventing the onset of ankylosing spondylitis and minimising its symptoms once the disease is established.


Ankylosing spondylitis Spondyloarthritis Klebsiella pneumoniae Chronic inflammation South African plants Resveratrol 



The authors are most grateful to Andrew Hankey, chief botanist at the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens in Johannesburg, South Africa, for providing and identifying the plant materials used in these studies. They also thank Professor Charles de Koning and Myron Johnson of the Dept Chemistry, Witwatersrand University for access to their HPLC and assistance with its operation. Financial support was provided by the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.


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Copyright information

© Springer Basel 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Futures Research InstituteGriffith UniversityNathanAustralia
  2. 2.School of Natural Sciences, Nathan CampusGriffith UniversityNathanAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of the WitwatersrandParktownSouth Africa

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