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Keywords:

  • zoopharmacognosy;
  • chimpanzee;
  • chemical ecology;
  • secondary compounds;
  • bioassays

Abstract

We measured the biological activities of a selected sample (84 crude extracts) of 24 species eaten by wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) in the Kibale National Park, western Uganda, to assess their potential chemotherapeutic values. Antibacterial, antimalarial, and/or antileishmania activities were observed in some crude extracts, and five of these extracts showed a significant cytotoxicity against human tumor cells. Active compounds isolated from three plant parts occasionally ingested by chimpanzees (Diospyros abyssinica (Ebenaceae) bark, Uvariopsis congensis (Annonaceae) leaves, and Trichilia rubescens (Meliaceae) leaves) showed highly significant medicinal properties. Two novel antiparasitic limonoids were isolated from Trichilia rubescens and their molecular structures were determined. In addition to elucidating the natural equilibrium maintained between hosts and pathogens, our investigation of the diet of wild chimpanzees may serve as a guideline to discovering plants with bioactive properties that should be preserved from destruction because of their health maintenance value for great ape populations. Am. J. Primatol. 68:51–71, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.