Inhibition of Streptococcus pyogenes growth by native Australian plants: New approaches towards the management of impetigo, pharyngitis and rheumatic heart disease

Cameron Jay Lee1, Mitchell Henry Wright1, Megan Sarah Jean Arnold1,2, Anthony Carlson Greene1, Ian Edwin Cock1,3*
1School of Natural Sciences, Griffith University, 170 Kessels Rd, Nathan, Queensland 4111, AUSTRALIA.
2Eskitis Institute for Drug Discovery, Griffith University,46 Don Young Rd, Nathan, Queensland 4111, AUSTRALIA.
3Environmental Futures Research Institute, Nathan Campus, Griffith University, 170 Kessels Rd, Nathan, Queensland 4111, AUSTRALIA.

Pharmacognosy Communications,2016,6,3,164-173.
Published: March 2016
Type: Original Article


Introduction: Streptococcus pyogenes can cause a variety of diseases including streptococcal pharyngitis, impetigo and rheumatic heart disease, dependant on which tissue it infects. Many Australian plants have documented therapeutic properties as general antiseptics, but are yet to be tested for the ability to inhibit S. pyogenes growth. Methods: Solvent extracts were prepared using Australian plants with documented ethnobotanical usage to treat bacterial infections, or published antibacterial activity. The extracts were investigated by disc diffusion assay for the ability to inhibit the growth of a clinical strain of S. pyogenes. Their MIC values were determined to quantify and compare their efficacies. Toxicity was determined using the Artemia franciscana nauplii bioassay. Results: S. pyogenes growth was inhibited by 24 of the 34 extracts tested. The Eucalyptus spp. extracts were particularly potent. MIC values of 341 and 88 μg/ mL were determined for the aqueous and methanolic E. baileyana extracts respectively. Similarly, MIC values of 134 and 53 μg/mL were determined for the aqueous and methanolic E. major extracts respectively. The methanolic wattle seed extract, aqueous and methanolic lemon aspen extracts, aqueous native thyme extract, methanolic river mint extract and the methanolic native basil extract were similarly potent growth inhibitors, with MIC values ≤1000 μg/mL. Several other extracts (methanolic native tamarind, bush tomato, desert lime, native thyme, native sage and the T. stipitata leaf extracts, as well as the aqueous river mint, native basil, T. stipitata leaf extracts) displayed moderate growth inhibitory activity (MIC=1000-5000 μg/mL). All other extracts were either low potency S. pyogenes growth inhibitors or were devoid of inhibitory activity. The E. baileyana and E. major methanolic extracts, as well as the E. baileyana aqueous extract induced significant mortality in the Artemia fransiscana bioassay, with LC50 values substantially <1000 μg/mL. All other extracts were nontoxic, with LC50 values >1000 μg/mL. Conclusion: The potent growth inhibitory bioactivity of the Eucalyptus spp., lemon aspen, wattle seed, native basil and river mint extracts against S. pyogenes demonstrates their potential for the treatment and prevention of S. pyogenes induced disease. However, the toxicity of the Eucalyptus spp. extracts may limit their use to topical treatments for pharyngitis and impetigo. As the lemon aspen, wattle seed, native basil and river mint extracts were nontoxic, they may also have wider uses in treating systemic illnesses such as rheumatic fever, rheumatic heart disease and cellulitis.

Key words: Eucalyptus, Antioxidant, Lemon aspen, Pharyngitis, Impetigo, Rheumatic heart disease, Antibacterial activity.

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