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A phylogenetic road map to antimalarial Artemisia species

AuthorsPellicer, Jaume; Saslis-Lagoudakis, C. Haris; Carrió, Esperança; Ernst, Madeleine; Garnatje, Teresa ; Grace, Olwen M.; Gras, Airy ; Mumbru, Màrius; Vallès, Joan; Vitales, Daniel ; Rønsted, Nina
Hot nodes
Liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry
Traditional knowledge
Issue Date28-Oct-2018
CitationJournal of Ethnopharmacology 225: 1-9 (2018)
Abstract[Ethnopharmacological relevance] The discovery of the antimalarial agent artemisinin is considered one of the most significant success stories of ethnopharmacological research in recent times. The isolation of artemisinin was inspired by the use of Artemisia annua in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and was awarded a Nobel Prize in 2015. Antimalarial activity has since been demonstrated for a range of other Artemisia species, suggesting that the genus could provide alternative sources of antimalarial treatments. Given the stunning diversity of the genus (c. 500 species), a prioritisation of taxa to be investigated for their likely antimalarial properties is required.
[Materials and methods] Here we use a phylogenetic approach to explore the potential for identifying species more likely to possess antimalarial properties. Ethnobotanical data from literature reports is recorded for 117 species. Subsequent phylogenetically informed analysis was used to identify lineages in which there is an overrepresentation of species used to treat malarial symptoms, and which could therefore be high priority for further investigation of antimalarial activity.
[Results] We show that these lineages indeed include several species with documented antimalarial activity. To further inform our approach, we use LC-MS/MS analysis to explore artemisinin content in fifteen species from both highlighted and not highlighted lineages. We detected artemisinin in nine species, in eight of them for the first time, doubling the number of Artemisia taxa known to content this molecule.
[Conclusions] Our findings indicate that artemisinin may be widespread across the genus, providing an accessible local resource outside the distribution area of Artemisia annua.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2018.06.030
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