Heartwoods of 22 African tropical wood species were extracted with methanol and the contents of total phenolic compounds in these extracts were measured. Three bioassays were conducted to evaluate the antioxidant activity, tyrosinase inhibitory activity, and antifungal activity of the methanol extracts. The results indicated that the extracts from 13 species exhibited high antioxidant potential, and their inhibitory concentrations that caused 50% scavenging of the 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radical (IC50) were less than 10 μg/ml. The crude extract from Cylicodiscus gabunensis showed the highest antioxidant activity, and was even higher than that of (+)-catechin, which is known as a potent antioxidant. There was a good correlation between the antioxidant activity and the content of total phenolic compounds, indicating that phenolic compounds played a predominant role in the antioxidant property of the wood extracts. Among all 22 species, only 1 species, Milicia excelsa, contained extractives that showed very high tyrosinase inhibitory activity. The extracts from 9 species showed high antifungal activity. No consistent relationship was observed between the tyrosinase inhibitory activity or antifungal activity and the content of total phenolics in the extracts.
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