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Electronic Journal of Natural Substances, 1, (2006), 12-19.

Regular article

Allelopathic effects on cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp)
plant and cytotoxic activities of sterols and triterpene isolated
from Justicia anselliana (NEES) T. Anders.
Dossou Sika Salomé KPOVIESSIa,b, Fernand A. GDAGUIDIa*, Joachim D. GBENOUa, Georges C.

Laboratoire de Pharmacognosie et des Huiles Essentielles. Faculté des Sciences de la Santé (FSS). Faculté
des Sciences Techniques (FAST). Université d’Abomey-Calavi (UAC), 01 BP: 188 Cotonou, Bénin.
CHAM unit, laboratoire de pharmacognosie. Université Catholique de Louvain UCL 72 30-CHAM, Av
Mounier 72, B-1200 Bruxelles, Belgium.
* corresponding author. Tel.: (+ 229) 21 30 90 77; (+229) 97 44 88 87.
Received November 2006; revised Februry2007, accepted Februry2007.

Purification of the allelopathic ethanol extract of Justicia anselliana aerial part led to the isolation of three
known compounds: two sterols (stigmasterol and β-sitosterol) and one triterpene (lupeol). Their structures
were determined by analysis of spectroscopic data and confirmed by GC/MS analysis. All isolated
compounds were tested for their allelopathic effects on cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) growth and for their
cytotoxic activity on human (HeLa, WI-38 and Mel-43) and mouse (J774) cells. All isolated compounds
showed an inhibitory effect on the three parameters measured on cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) germination
(rate of germination, shoot length and fresh weight). The highest rate of inhibition of cowpea’s germination
was observed with 200 ppm of lupeol (-28.4 % ± 0.7%) whereas all three parameters were inhibited very
meaningfully by 200 ppm stigmasterol (-26.6% ± 0.5%; -24.2% ± 0.7% and -21.1% ± 0.7% respectively for
germination, shoot length and fresh weight of Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp). None of the isolated
compounds was toxic on J774 (murine macrophages), WI-38 (human lung fibroblasts), human HeLa
(human cervix carcinoma cells) and melanoma Mel-43 cell. This is the first report of the allelopathic
activities of lupeol, stigmasterol and β-sitosterol on cowpea (Vigna unguiculata).
Key Words: Justicia anselliana, purification, sterols, triterpene, allelopathy, Vigna unguiculata (cowpea),

Vigna unguiculata (L) Walp (cowpea) is cultivated
over more than nine million hectares in all the
tropical area, in the mediteranean basin and in the
United States (Guigaz, 2002). Worldwide, it is
estimated that 37 million tones are annually
produced (Langyintuo et al., 2003). Cowpea is a
source of relatively low cost, high quality protein
which contained adequate levels of most essential
amino acids for pre-school children and all essential
amino acids for adults. Their digestibility is higher
than the one of other common legumes (Alessandra
et al., 2004).
It is the most consumed leguminous: its seeds
reduced into flour are used to make fritter,
particularly in Benin and in some of the West
African countries.
In south Benin, cowpea cultivation takes the
lead on the economical level because of the

economical guarantee it offers to farmers. Its
production occupies 90% of the working population
and was done during the drop in water level, on the
grounds set free by the water (Kossou et al., 2001).
In the Ouémé valley (south Benin) the
presence of Justicia anselliana (Nees) T. Anders
was very dangerous for cowpea. It belongs to the
family of Acanthacea and helps in the enherbing of
grounds for a percentage of 12 to 18% (Kossou et
al., 2001). Nearly glabrous herb, upright or
drooping, this plant is a 30 centimeters length
species and can reach 60 centimeters (Hutchinson
and Dalziel, 1963).
According to the empirical observations described
by farmers, this grass forms a very intimate
association with cowpea and at an advanced stage
of its development; it leads to the discolouration of
cowpea leaves. It thus puts an end to the cowpea


6 g) was submitted to a silica gel VLC with a gradient of nHex–CHCl3EtOAc-MeOH to give 30 fractions (500 ml each). in January 2005.Electronic Journal of Natural Substances. C) and of methanol (26. MERCK).9 g. After evaporation under reduced pressure. Samples were analysed in a full-scan mode (250-650 amu). Instrumentation NMR spectra were recorded on a Bruker Advance DRX-400 spectrometer. Every extraction lasted 4 hours and the extracts were dried in vacuum under reduced pressure. San Jose. Italy). Anders using some extracts from the dried materials (root and aerial part) of the weed proved that alcoholic extracts of its aerial part produced more significant effects on growth parameters such as seedlings elongation and fresh weight of the cowpea small plants than its root extracts (Ahanchede et al. samples (1 m1.2 g. Thin-layer chromatography (TLC) analysis using Tol-EtOAc-MeOH (80:18:2) as mobile phase and revealed with sulphuric anisaldehyde showed that fraction n°8 (C8:506. Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) was realised on a Trace GC 2000 series (ThermoQuest. column length 15 m × 0. in CDCl3. As sterols and triterpenes may have allelopathic effects (Macias et al.063–0. in the beginning of flowering time) of Justicia anselliana were collected in Ouémé valley (south R. Extraction and Isolation Procedure Dried and powdered aerial part of Justicia anselliana (500 g) was mixed with 2. 1992. thin layer chromatography (TLC) with silica gel 60 F254 plates (Merck).6 mg. 2003). To establish allelopathy according to the postulate of Putnam (Putnam. Allelopathy was defined as the effect of one plant (or microorganisms) on the growth of another plant through the release of chemical compounds into the environment (Rice.7 mg) and 3(99. The GC system was interfaced to a Trace MS mass spectrometer (ThermoQuest) operating in the electron-impact mode. ethanol and ethyl acetate of HPLC grade were purchased from Fisher Scientific. Merck LiChroprep® Si 60) as stationary phase. 12-19. toluene. Reagents and Standard Sterols and Triterpenes Chloroform. 1985). Vacuum liquid chromatography (VLC) was performed on silica gel 60 (0. Fischer and Quijano. in dichloromethane) were injected in the split mode (split ratio: 1/9)..25 µm film thickness) was from J&W Scientific http://ejns. 1985) and in order to develop a natural herbicide of non toxic origin. chloroform (18. B).) Walp) seeds. equipped with an autosampler AS2000 (ThermoQuest).4 mg). A contribution to the characterization of allelopathic potential of Justicia anselliana (Nees) T. Purification was achieved by medium performance liquid chromatography (MPLC) performed with Tol-EtOAc (92:2) as mobile phase at a flow rate of 1 mL/min (4 min/tube) to afford compounds 1(104.25 mm with a 0. USA) and helium was used as carrier gas at a flow rate of 1.) were tested on cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L. 1. Bioassays with Cowpea Seeds The allelopathic activities of different fractions (600 ppm concentration) (The bioassay with purified compounds was done at 200 ppm.univ-lyon1.. ethyl acetate (8. 1992). Anisaldehyde. A).fr (Agilent Technologies. Rizvi et al. Medium performance liquid chromatography (MPLC) was performed with a glass column (omnifit : OM 6427 15 x 750 mm) on silica gel (15-25 µm. (2006). 1997. CA) equipped with an electrospray ionisation source.5 mg). For compounds identification.2 ml/min. development. D). we decided to isolate and purify the sterols and triterpenes from Justicia anselliana aerial part. 60 mg of each fraction were dissolved 13 . Seeds of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) IT86D-719 variety were obtained from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) station of Benin. eluted with CHCl3EtOAc 95:5) contained three major spots.5 g) was successively extracted in a soxhlet apparatus with nHex (5.. The electron energy was 70eV and the ion source was at 250°C.200 mm. methanol. the ethanol extract (60. The capillary column (DBXLB. The injector temperature was set at 250°C and the oven was programmed from 50°C to 320°C (10°C/min) and this last temperature was maintained for 3 min.5 l of ethanol for 72 h at room temperature and percolated at 1 ml/min. 2(98. The ethyl acetate fraction (C.Vouchers specimen (AA6295/UNB) were deposited at the National Herbarium of the University of Abomey-Calavi (Republic of Benin). reference sterols and triterpenes were obtained from Extrasynthèse (GENAY France). hexane.4 g. MS analysis were achieved using an ion trap LCQ mass spectrometer (Finnigan MAT. 70230 mesh ASTM. study their cytotoxic activity on human and mouse cells and their allelopathic effects on the Vigna unguiculata (cowpea) growth Material and methods Vegetal Material Aerial parts (dry season. it is important to know the substances inducing damages and to establish their relationship with the inhibition or the stimulation of the cowpea growth.4 g. Bénin).

HeLa (human cervix carcinoma cells) and melanoma Mel-43 cell lines were grown in Gibco DMEM supplement with 10% heatinactivated foetal bovine serum and penicillin (100 UI/ml). the medium was removed and replaced by 100 m1 of DMEM (without serum) containing 10 m1 of MTT solution (3 mg/ml in PBS).. 1). 1. 1% sodium pyruvate and penicillin-streptomycin (100 UI/ml-100 µg/ml). Mel-43.. In control Petri dishes. in the incubator. ethylacetate(C).fr methanol (D) and ethanol (E)] inhibited all three parameters in the order B>E>D>C. The relative absorbance was expressed as a percentage of the corresponding control considered as 100%. 1 ml of this solution was poured on to sterilized paper filters (Watman n°1) carefully disposed in previously sterilized Petri dishes. 1998) with the formula: I-100 (with I= 100 x Extract value / control value) (Parvez and al.4% and 88. and 100 m1 of DMSO were added to each well. shoot length and fresh weight of the whole small plants of five days was calculated by considering the control as zero (Rawat et al. At the same dose the other fractions [chloroforme (B).9±1. Cytotoxicity Assay Cell Lines and Cultivation : J774 (murine macrophages) cells were cultured with Flow RPMI 1640 medium supplemented with 10% heatinactivated foetal bovine serum. MTT Assay Stock solution of extracts and pure compounds were prepared at 10 mg/ml in DMSO. at 37 °C. 1983). Camptothecin (Sigma) was used as positive cytotoxic reference compound (Stevigny et al. conditioned in aluminium papers and introduced to the incubator to 25±1°C during 5 days. 0. WI38 and J774 cells in 200 µl medium were seeded in each well of 96-well plates.2%) and the fresh weight (+ 45.33% Lglutamine. After 72 h treatment. only 1 ml of the respective pure organic solvents was used. the ethyl acetate fraction (C) being the most active on all three parameters (-95. separately in 20 ml of the solvent in which they were extracted.univ-lyon1.. When a significant difference was observed at the level of 5%. Cells were incubated in a humidified atmosphere with 5% CO2.2%) of Vigna unguiculata (L. 1980). the medium containing MTT was removed. 2002). The results are expressed by IC50 values (concentration of compounds causing 50% inhibition of cell growth) calculated from graphs using at least five different concentrations of each extract and isolated compound. The effects of extracts and isolated compounds.2±0.2±1. 5 ml of double distilled water was added by Petri dish with 4 seeds of cowpea. the medium was removed and replaced by 200 m1/well fresh medium containing various concentrations of extracts. Each extract and control treatments were replicated six times.) Walp) 14 . (2006). 12-19. compounds or DMSO at the same final concentration. The rate of inhibition or stimulation in terms of germination. the test of Newman Keuls was used to separate the averages (Steel and Torrie. 1990). Statistical Analysis The statistical analysis was realized with the software package (Statistical Analysis Systems) (SAS) (SAS / Stat User's Guide. Plates were shacked and absorbance recorded at two wavelengths (570-620 nm) against a background control as blank.2% respectively for germination. The Petri dishes were then covered. The data were analysed by ANOVA (Analysis of variance). then. 2004).) Walp at 600 ppm (Fig. Each concentration was tested in at least 6 wells.Electronic Journal of Natural Substances. http://ejns. on all cell lines were evaluated using MTT (Sigma) colorimetric assay based on cleavage of the reagent by mitochondrial deshydrogenases in viable cells (Mosmann.9±0. Cells were first incubated 24h. After organic solvent evaporation. WI-38 cells (human lung fibroblasts). After 45 min. shoot length and fresh weight of Vigna unguiculata (L.8±0.1%. Only the hexane fraction (A) of the aerial part of Justicia ansellian presented a stimulation effect on the shoot length (+ 10. Results and discussion Effects of Extracts on Seeds Germination. 5000 HeLa. -97. 1% non essential amino acids.

2DNMR spectra allowed us to assign completely the 1 H and 13C-NMR of lupeol.Electronic Journal of Natural Substances. 1. The ethyl acetate fraction (C) was subject to vacuum liquid and medium performance liquid chromatography to afford one triterpene “lupeol (1)” and two sterols: stigmasterol (2) and βsitosterol (3). C = EtOAc.05. Saxena and Sosanna. comparison with 29 20 30 12 25 11 H 26 13 1 2 14 10 H 17 16 6 241 21 22 22 18 28 1 27 2 1 11 9 10 3 HO 23 20 12 19 15 8 7 HO 19 9 3 24 18 242 21 5 4 6 17 13 14 8 26 23 24 25 27 16 15 2 7 242 241 21 18 12 19 1 2 10 11 9 3 HO 4 5 6 13 14 8 7 22 20 17 26 23 24 25 27 16 15 3 Figure 2: Structure of compounds 1 (lupeol). 2005. Connolly and Hill. Peter and Katalin. P* < 0. 2 (stigmasterol) and 3 (β-sitosterol). These compounds are reported for the first time in Justicia 15 . Structural identification of 1-2-3 (Fig. E = EtOH The upwards evolution corresponds to a stimulation of the parameters measured while the downwards evolution indicates an inhibition. 2004) and GC-MS with standards (Table 2). Mahato et al. http://ejns. 2) was carried out by analysis of their spectroscopic data (1H and 13C-NMR and MS).univ-lyon1. stigmasterol and βsitosterol. 1991. previously reported values (Table 1) (Yue et al. 1994. 12-19. A B % Inhibition or Stimulation over control (mean values) 60 C D E Germination Shoot length * 40 Fresh w eight 20 0 -20 -40 ∗ ∗ -60 * * * -80 -100 * ∗ * * * * * * -120 Name of extract Figure 1: Effects at 600 ppm of Justicia anselliana soxhlet fractions on cowpea (Vigna unguiculata). D = MeOH. 2004. (2006). B = CHCl3... A = hexane. Isolation and Characterization of Sterols and Triterpene from Justicia anselliana. N =6.

01 s 2.90 m 0.03 d 56.8 1.37m 1.90m 1.50m 1.83 m 1.48m _ 1.33 m 1.32m 1.5 3 79.61 m 56.06 m 1.20m 1.67m 3.3 18.3 5.07m 1.37m 1.28 m 1.0 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 28.55 m 0.8 31.0 29.0 19.2 19.univ-lyon1.1 16 .51 m Hδ(ppm) 1.50 m 1.51 m 2.79s 4.8 121.94 m _ 1.9 31. Table 1: NMR data of 1.6 17 18 19 20 21 43.6 18. 12-19.0 48. (2006).68m 1.4 28.84 t 42.92 d 138.3 5 6 55.8 1.0 24.68m _ 1.69 m 42.3 48.0 15.44 m 39.42m _ 1.1 42.3 56.0 5.67d 1.9 29.30 m 2.3 4.9 1.5 21.58 m 0.67 s 0.76s 0.85 dd 0.1 16.3 51.7 24.97s 0.3 _ 1.13 MHz for 1H and 100.82 d 0.0 109.3 31.19m 0.94 m _ 1.37m 2.7 50.5 16 35.83s 1.2 20.62 MHz for 13C.1 45.80 d 25.2 2.80 dd 26.9 12.7 7 34.5 21.98 s 1.3 Cδ(ppm) 37.18 m __ 1.00m 1.3 1 31.20dd 4 38.8 27.7 _ 5.84 m 1.54 m 1.2 36.9 50.4 36.1 11.97 m 1.1 19.1 1.) 1 Position 13 2 1 13 1 Cδ(ppm) 38.65 m 1.8 3.58 m 1.0 14.2 36.68m 1.0 Hδ(ppm) 38.92m 1.58 m 1.8 50.8 121.52 m 12.75 q 0.54d 4.51 m 3.82 m 42.9 19.3 31.37m 1.2 57.32 t 31. 1.68m 1.1 1.0 1.7 3 1 Hδ(ppm) 1.74 m 0.50 m 13 Cδ(ppm) 37.54 m 0.94s 0.04 dd 1.00 m 1.9 22 40.4 40.3 8 9 10 11 40. 2 and 3 (400.43 m 1.7 2 27.40m 1.29m _ 1.37 m 71.3 0.81 t 23.23 m _ 5.72 m 1.17 dd 34.18 m 0.03s 0.3 0.59m 1.93 m 31.01 m 28.62 m 129.06 m 1.9 12 25.2 18.3 30 241 19.40m 1.7m 0.0 151.4 16.08 m 1.38ddd _ 1.9 21.9 71.8 12.10 m 1.8 1.5 21.6 1.70 s 1.2 13 14 15 38.5 37.46 m 0.9 _ 42.3 19.68s 242 http://ejns.Electronic Journal of Natural Substances.3 140.4 1.2 39.01 m 1. in CDCl3 and using tetramethylsilane (TMS) as an internal standard.62 m 140.

2 27.9±1. The IC50 (50% inhibitory concentration) values of MTT test (Table 3) show that hexane fraction (A) has an inhibititory effect only on J774 (IC50=2. chuman cervix carcinoma cells.9±1. Figure 3: Effects at 200 ppm of sterols and triterpene isolated from Justicia anselliana on the cowpea (Vigna unguiculata). N=6.2 µg/ml) cells. 1 (lupeol). 1 (lupeol).7 26. (2006). 2 (stigmasterol) and 3 (β-sitosterol). bmurine macrophages. 12-19. All the isolated compounds show an inhibitory activity on all three parameters measured on the cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) germination at 200 ppm (Fig. Table 3: Cytotoxic activities of factions and isolated compounds.45 % ± 0. 2 (stigmasterol) and 3 (β-sitosterol). % In h ib itio n o v er co n tro l (m e an valu es) 1 2 3 0 -5 -10 Germination -15 Shoot length -20 Fresh weight -25 -30 -35 name of isolated compounds Lupeol inhibited mainly germination (-28. P*< 0. emelanoma.6±1. Allelopathic Effect of Isolated Compounds.8 27.2 > 100 > 100 > 100 > 100 > 100 > 100 > 100 > 100 > 100 > 100 > 100 > 100 > 100 > 100 > 100 c Mel-43e > 100 > 100 > 100 > 100 > 100 > 100 > 100 > 100 IC50 (Concentration of drug causing 50% inhibition of mitochondrial activity).0 µg/ml) cells only.7 27.2 retention time.75%) while β-sitosterol greatly inhibited the shoot length and stigmasterol was very effective on all the three parameters. 1. Cytotoxic Effects of Fractions. Name of fractions and compounds J774 Fractions Compound s a d Hexane (A) CHCl3 (B) EtOAc (C) MeOH (D) EtOH (E) Lupeol (1) Stigmasterol (2) β-Sitosterol (3) b 2.8 29.2± 1. These results indicate that the allelopathic effect of C extract does not seem to be due to a cytotoxicity.0 > 100 > 100 > 100 IC50(µg/mL)a HeLa WI-38d 37.1 µg/mL) and HeLa (IC50=37.1 > 100 > 100 > 100 3.6±1. while the ethanol extract (E) inhibited J774 (IC50=3. 3).univ-lyon1. Table 2: Retention times and some characteristic fragment ions observed in the EI mass spectra after GC-MS of isolated or reference compounds. http://ejns. The other fractions were not toxic to the tested cell lines (IC50 > 100). compound Molecular masse 426 426 412 412 414 414 1 lupeol 2 stigmasterol 3 βsitosterol a [M•]+ [M-CH3]+ 426 426 412 412 414 414 [M-H2O]+ 411 411 399 397 399 399 408 408 393 394 396 396 [M-CH3-H2O]+ 393 393 379 379 381 381 a TR (min) 27.Electronic Journal of Natural 17 . The upwards evolution corresponds to a stimulation of the parameters measured while downwards evolution indicates an inhibition. human lung fibroblasts.2±1.05.

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