Journal of ethnopharmacology

Pharmacokinetics of artemisinin delivered by oral consumption of Artemisia annua dried leaves in healthy vs. Plasmodium chabaudi-infected mice.

PMID 24661969


The Chinese have used Artemisia annua as a tea infusion to treat fever for >2000 years. The active component is artemisinin. Previously we showed that when compared to mice fed an equal amount of pure artemisinin, a single oral dose of dried leaves of Artemisia annua (pACT) delivered to Plasmodium chabaudi-infected mice reduced parasitemia at least fivefold. Dried leaves also delivered >40 times more artemisinin in the blood with no toxicity. The pharmacokinetics (PK) of artemisinin delivered from dried plant material has not been adequately studied. Healthy and Plasmodium chabaudi-infected mice were oral gavaged with pACT to deliver a 100 mg kg(-1) body weight dose of artemisinin. Concentrations of serum artemisinin and one of its liver metabolites, deoxyartemisinin, were measured over two hours by GCMS. The first order elimination rate constant for artemisinin in pACT-treated healthy mice was estimated to be 0.80 h(-1) with an elimination half-life (T½) of 51.6 min. The first order absorption rate constant was estimated at 1.39 h(-1). Cmax and Tmax were 4.33 mg L(-1) and 60 min, respectively. The area under the curve (AUC) was 299.5 mg min L(-1). In contrast, the AUC for pACT-treated infected mice was significantly greater at 435.6 mg min L(-1). Metabolism of artemisinin to deoxyartemisinin was suppressed in infected mice over the period of observation. Serum levels of artemisinin in the infected mice continued to rise over the 120 min of the study period, and as a result, the T½ was not determined; the Cmax and Tmax were estimated at ≥6.64 mgL(-1) and ≥120 min, respectively. Groups of healthy mice were also fed either artemisinin or artemisinin mixed in mouse chow. When compared at 60 min, artemisinin was undetectable in the serum of mice fed 100 mg AN kg(-1) body weight. When plant material was present either as mouse chow or Artemisia annua pACT, artemisinin levels in the serum rose to 2.44 and 4.32 mg L(-1), respectively, indicating that the presence of the plant matrix, even that of mouse chow, had a positive impact on the appearance of artemisinin in the blood. These results showed that artemisinin and one of its drug metabolites were processed differently in healthy and infected mice. The results have implications for possible therapeutic use of pACT in treating malaria and other artemisinin-susceptible diseases.

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Artemisinin, 98%