Antileishmanial activity of extracts from Libidibia ferrea: development of in vitro and in vivo tests

<div><p>ABSTRACT Treatment of cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) is difficult due to the scarce number of drugs able to eliminate completely the intracellular form of the parasite. In the present study, the aim was to evaluate: i) phytochemical properties of extracts from Libidibia ferrea; ii) antileishmanial activity of extracts from L. ferrea against promastigotes and amastigotes of Leishmania (Leishmania) amazonensis and Leishmania (Viannia) guyanensis; iii) the effects of topical treatment using hydrogel containing active extract of L. ferrea on golden hamsters infected with L. (L.) amazonensis. Extracts from leaves, branches and fruits of L. ferrea were obtained with hexane and methanol and were tested by in vitro assays in promastigotes and murine macrophages J774 experimentally infected with amastigotes of Leishmania. Groups of hamsters with CL received topical treatment with a formulation of extract (10%) hydrogels, 50 mg.day-1 for 40 days. In vitro activity of FrMeOH (methanolic extract from fruits without seeds) resulted in significant reduction of viable promastigotes of L. (L.) amazonensis (IC50 of 15.4 µg.mL-1) and demonstrated inhibition potential of amastigote forms of L. (L.) amazonensis and L. (V.) guyanensis and low cytotoxicity in macrophages. The overall data of topical treatment with extract hydrogels (GelFrMeOH) showed that lesion sizes were significantly reduced (42.78%), with low parasite burden by RT-qPCR and culture analysis by microscopy examination, and with histopathological findings such as lower inflammatory cell infiltration 40 days after treatment. Chemical analysis demonstrated FrMeOH contains high levels of phenolic compounds. The results indicate a possible alternative therapy for CL using phytotherapics.</p></div>