Artocarpus communis Forst. root-bark aqueous extract- and streptozotocin-induced ultrastructural and metabolic changes in hepatic tissues of Wistar rats

Stephen O Adewole, John A O Ojewole
African Journal of Traditional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicines: AJTCAM 2007 June 10, 4 (4): 397-410
Decoctions and infusions of Artocarpus communis (Forst.) (family: Moraceae) root-bark are commonly used traditionally among the Yoruba-speaking people of Western Nigeria as folk remedies for the management, control and/or treatment of an array of human diseases, including type 2, adult-onset diabetes mellitus. Although numerous bioactive flavonoids have been isolated from the roots, stem-bark and leaves of A. communis, to the best of our knowledge, the effects of the plant's root-bark extract on animal model of diabetes mellitus and on liver tissues have hitherto, not been reported in the biomedical literature. In view of this, the present study was undertaken to investigate the glycaemic effect of, and hepatic tissue ultrastructural, morphological and metabolic changes induced by A. communis root-bark aqueous extract (ACE) in Wistar rats. The ultrastructural, morphological and metabolic effects of ACE have been compared with those induced by streptozotocin (STZ) in rat experimental paradigms. Four groups (A, B, C and D) of Wistar rats, each group containing 10 rats, were used. Diabetes mellitus was induced in the diabetic groups B and C animals by intraperitoneal injections of STZ (75 mg/kg body weight), while group A rats received A. communis root-bark aqueous extract (ACE, 100 mg/kg body weight, i.p.) alone. Control group D rats received distilled water in quantities equivalent to the volume of ACE administered intraperitoneally. The rats in group C were additionally treated with ACE (100 mg/kg body weight i. p.) daily from day 3 to day 10 after STZ treatment. Hepatic glucokinase, hexokinase, glutamate dehydrogenase, succinate dehydrogenase, beta-hydroxybutyrate dehydrogenase, serum insulin and blood glucose levels of the animals were measured and recorded before and after ACE, STZ and STZ+ACE treatments. Hepatic tissues were also processed for transmission electron microscopy. Electron microscopic examinations showed toxic, deleterious alterations in the ultrastructures of groups A, B and C hepatic cells, the most prominent deleterious effects being on the hepatocytes. Ultrastructural changes observed within the hepatocytes of groups A, B and C rats include disrupted mitochondria with increase in lipid droplets, extensive hepatocellular vacuolation, scanty rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER) and ribosomes. Large glycogen clusters were also noticed displacing the mitochondria and RER in group A rats. Group A rats also developed significant hyperglycemia (p<0.05) immediately after ACE administration, while groups B and C rats developed hyperglycemia 24 hours after STZ treatment. When compared with the control group D rats, the activities of all the three subsystems were disrupted, leading to overall inhibition of oxidative phosphorylation of the liver mitochondria in groups A, B and C rats, but remain normal in the untreated group D control rats. The findings of the present study indicate that A. communis root-bark aqueous extract induces hyperglycaemia in the experimental animal model used, and that the plant's extract disrupts the ultrastructural characteristics and architecture of hepatocytes as well as oxidative energy metabolism.

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