Article

Seasonal variation in the content of a febrifugine and isofebrifugine alkaloid mixture in aerial parts of Hydrangea macrophylla var. Otaksa, with special reference to its antimalarial activity

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Abstract

Febrifugine and isofebrifugine alkaloid mixtures extracted from the leaves and buds of Hydrangea macrophylla var. Otaksa, collected during different months, in Japan, were quantified using high-performance liquid chromatography. Leaves collected during the flowering season, namely from June to August, contained 0.16–0.31mg/g of the alkaloid mixture, whereas those collected from September to December had less than 0.03mg/g of the mixture. However, extracts of buds harvested from October to February contained a consistently larger amount (more than 0.49mg/g) of the alkaloids. Hot-water extracts from the leaves and buds collected during different seasons were evaluated for antimalarial activity against Plasmodium yoelii 17XL in mice. The extract of leaves collected in August demonstrated high antimalarial activity, and all mice that received the extract survived the infection. In contrast, the extract of leaves collected in December showed little activity. The extract of buds collected in December cleared parasites, but with subsequent mortality to mouse. The present results show that the amount of antimalarial agent—febrifugine and isofebrifugine mixture—in H. macrophylla var. Otaksa is both part- and season-dependent, suggesting that the choice of plant parts and their harvesting season are important factors worth considering in the pharmacological use of medicinal plants.

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... Febrifugine is also found in the common garden plants of the genus Hydrange a (Ishih et al. 2006), which do serve as a nectar source for honey bees (Suppl Figure 4). Animals are known to employ self-medication or zoopharmacognosy (de Roode et al. 2013) and many invertebrates (Schmid-Hempel 2017), including honey bees (Erler and Moritz 2016), and participate in this behavior. ...
... Bumble bees ingest more nectar containing the antiparasitic compound anabasine when parasitized by a specific trypanosome (Anthony et al. 2015). While Febrifugine levels in nectar are unknown (Ishih et al. 2006), it is tempting to speculate that honey bees may preferentially consume Hydrangea nectar when parasitized by microsporidia. ...
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