Effectiveness of aqueous and hydroalcoholic extracts of Acanthospermum australe (Loefl.) Kuntze against diarrhea-inducing bacteria

<div><p>Abstract Leaves and roots of Acanthospermum australe (Asteraceae) have been used in Brazilian folk medicine for the treatment of various ailments including diarrhea, skin diseases, blennorrhagia, dyspepsia, parasitic worms and malaria. The aim of study was to characterize the chemical profiles of the aqueous and hydroalcoholic extracts of leaves and roots of A. australe, and to evaluate their antimicrobial activities against diarrhea-inducing bacteria (Enterococcus faecalis, Shigella dysenteriae and Yersinia enterocolitica), as well as their cytotoxic properties. Aqueous leaf extracts were obtained by infusion, while aqueous root extracts were obtained by decoction. The hydroalcoholic leaf and root extracts were prepared by maceration in 90% ethanol for 3 days. Antimicrobial activity was assessed using standard techniques and cytotoxicity was evaluated using Chinese hamster ovary cells CHO-K1. Chemical analysis revealed the presence of tannins, flavonoids, saponins and phenolic compounds in the extracts. Although root extracts were not effective against E. faecalis, leaf extracts at concentrations of 20 mg/mL exhibited bactericidal activities against this microorganism. The hydroalcoholic root extract was unique in presenting a bactericidal effect against S. dysenteriae. None of the extracts showed bacteriostatic or bactericidal activities against Y. enterocolitica. The results presented herein demonstrate that the Gram-positive E. faecalis and the Gram-negative S. dysenteriae were susceptible to A. australe extracts, although bacteriostatic/bactericidal activities were only observed at concentrations considered too high for clinical application. Our results support the ethnopharmacological use of A. australe in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders, particularly diarrhea caused by infectious bacteria, although further studies are required to determine the anti-diarrhea effects and the toxicities of the extracts in vivo.</p></div>