THE EFFECTS OF ETHANOL EXTRACT OF ROOTS OF SARCOCEPHALUS LATIFOLIUS ON SOME BIOCHEMICAL PARAMETERS IN WISTAR ALBINO RATS AND ITS ANTIMALARIAL POTENTIALS

AUTHOR: ENEMOR, VICTOR HENRY AZUBUIKE

DEPARTMENT: APPLIED BIOCHEMISTRY

AFFILIATION: NNAMDI AZIKIWE UNIVERSITY, AWKA

In recent times, interest in the use of medicinal plants (ethnomedicine or ethnobotanic medicine) as alternative to modern medicines is increasing globally, especially in developing countries where traditional beliefs and high cost of, or limited access to conventional medical treatment may all constitute important factors. The use of Sarcocephalus latifolius for the control of various illnesses especially in Africa is widely documented. This study therefore is designed to establish the toxicity potentials and /or the safety margin of the plant’s root extract by monitoring the effects of its constituents on some haematological and biochemical parameters in rats. The haematological parameters were analysed using the Diatron automated haematological analyser (ABACUS). Liver and kidney function indices, some electrolytes, and lipid parameters, in serum, were determined using analytical kits and standard methods, as appropriate. Na+ was analysed by flame photometry. Antimalarial screening was done by microscopy. The phytochemical analysis of the root revealed the presence of alkaloids, saponins, tannins and anthraquinones in extractable quantities; flavonoids are also present. The results of the study indicates that the observed changes in haematological parameters – white blood cell (WBC), red blood cell (RBC), platelets (PLT) and their indices (except in very few cases) were non-significant (p> 0.05). The effects of the extract on concentrations of different electrolytes in serum were varied. Elevations were recorded for potassium with a few cases being significant (p < 0.05). Serum calcium concentration was significantly reduced (p <0.05) in a dose-dependent manner. Reductions were also observed for serum chloride concentration, with higher doses causing significant reductions (p < 0.05). Serum bicarbonate concentration appears almost completely unaffected by the extract; apparently, no changes were observed when compared with that of the control. Serum sodium concentrations for the 500 and 800 mg doses and the control were 139.22 ± 1.02 mmol/L, 134.5 ± 1.50 mmol/L, and (140.66 ± 1.12 mmol/L), respectively, showing a significant reduction for the higher dose. Liver function studies showed insignificant reductions in mean activities of alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST), with significant reduction in the activity of alanine aminotransferase (ALT), (p < 0.05). Bilirubin, creatinine, and urea were apparently unaffected by the extract (p > 0.05). For the acute toxicity studies, the lethal dose (LD50) of the extract was found to be 2236.07 mg/kg body weight. Effects on liver function parameters – ALP, AST, and ALT were nonsignificant. Increased acitivities were recorded for gamma glutamyltransferase (13.90 ± 6.40; 14.48 ± 5.38; 4.34 ± 2.8 iu/l), for 2000 mg, 1500 mg/kg body weight, and control, respectively. Total bilirubin decreased nonsignificantly (p > 0.05), while conjugated bilirubin decreased significantly (p <0.05), comparative to the control.Creatinine and urea were decreased significantly (p < 0.05) by the extract at a single high dose of 2000 mg/kg body weight. Single dose schedules decreased both cholesterol and triglyceride insignificantly (p >0.05), but uric acid was significantly reduced (p < 0.05). Results of antimalarial studies indicate that the ethanol extract of the root is capable of eliminating malarial parasites as well as suppressing their growth. These studies have shown that Sarcocephalus latifolius root extract is relatively of very low toxicity and could conserve the integrity of the blood and essential organs, thus justifying its wide application in traditional medicine practices.

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