Role of saponins for the anticonvulsant effect of adventitious roots of Ficus religiosa

Damanpreet Singh, Bikram Singh, Rajesh Kumar Goel
Pharmaceutical Biology 2012, 50 (7): 816-22

CONTEXT: The adventitious roots of Ficus religiosa L. (Moraceae) have been extensively used in traditional medicine for treatment of several disorders, including epilepsy.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the possible anticonvulsant effect of the adventitious roots of Ficus religiosa, and to find the biologically active fraction, to substantiate its traditional use in epilepsy.

METHODS: The hydroethanolic extract of adventitious roots (5, 10, and 20 mg/kg; i.p.) of Ficus religiosa and its different fractions (hexane, chloroform, ethyl acetate, butanol, aqueous, saponins-rich, and saponins-lacking) at a dose equivalent to 20 mg/kg of the extract were administered 30 min prior to the induction of maximal electroshock (MES) and pentylenetetrazol (PTZ) convulsions. Duration of tonic hind-limb extension (THLE) and latency to clonic convulsions were noted in MES and PTZ tests, respectively. Neurotoxicity was assessed using rotarod test.

RESULTS: Treatment with the root extract (5, 10, and 20 mg/kg; i.p.), butanolic (6 mg/kg; i.p.) and saponins-rich fractions (3.4 mg/kg; i.p.) significantly (p < 0.05) decreased the duration of THLE in MES test, as compared to control. The same treatment also significantly (p < 0.05) increased the latency to PTZ-induced clonic convulsions in comparison to control. The other fractions were found to be ineffective. The root extract and its active fractions at their effective doses showed no neurotoxic effects.

CONCLUSION: The present study concluded that the hydroethanolic extract of adventitious roots of Ficus religiosa has anticonvulsant activity. Retention of anticonvulsant effect in the saponins-rich fraction-treated animals indicated the role of saponins for the activity.

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