Tuberculosis is a major infectious disease that globally causes the highest human mortality. From this aspect, this study was carried out to evaluate novel pharmacological activities/effects of artesunate and artemisinin causing anti-tubercular activity/effects against Mycobacterium tuberculosis
(Mtb). The anti-Mtb activities/effects of artesunate and artemisinin were evaluated using different anti-Mtb indicator assays, such as the resazurin microtiter assay, the Mycobacteria Growth Indicator Tube (MGIT) 960 system assay, and the Ogawa slant medium assay, as well as in vivo tests. Artesunate showed selective anti-Mtb effects by strongly inhibiting the growth of Mtb compared to artemisinin, and consistently induced anti-Mtb activity/effects by effectively inhibiting Mtb in the MGIT 960 system and in Ogawa slant medium for 21 days with a single dose; its minimum inhibitory concentration was 300 µg/mL in in vitro testing. Furthermore, artesunate demonstrated an anti-tubercular effect/action with a daily dose of 3.5 mg/kg in an in vivo test for four weeks, which did not indicate or induce toxicity and side effects. These results demonstrate that artesunate effectively inhibits the growth and/or proliferation of Mtb through novel pharmacological activities/actions, as well as induces anti-Mtb activity. This study shows its potential as a potent candidate agent for developing new anti-tuberculosis drugs of an effective/safe next generation, and suggests novel insights into its effective use by repurposing existing drugs through new pharmacological activity/effects as one of the substantive alternatives for inhibiting tuberculosis.
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