PROTECTIVE EFFECT OF AQUEOUS EXTRACTS OF AFRAMOMUM LONGISCAPUM SEED AGAINST SODIUM ARSENITE - INDUCED HEPATOTOXICITY AND CLASTOGENICITY IN WISTAR RATS
The use of medicinal plants has been found to be effective in the treatment of diseases such as cancer. Aframomum longiscapum seed has been used in the treatment of cancer in ethno medicine but has not been subjected to appropriate scientific evaluation. This study was therefore designed to evaluate the protective effect of Aqueous Extract of Aframomum longiscapum (AEAL) seed against sodium arsenite- and ethanol-induced hepatotoxicity and clastogenicity in male Wistar rats. Phytochemical composition of dried milled seeds of Aframomum longiscapum was evaluated using standard procedures. Twenty five male albino Wistar rats (150-250 g) were randomly divided into five groups of five rats each: Group I (control) - distilled water, Group II- sodium arsenite (2.5mg/kg), Group III - sodium arsenite (2.5mg/kg) in 3% ethanol (v/v), Group IV- AEAL (122.5 mg/kg), Group V- sodium arsenite (2.5mg/kg) in 3% ethanol + AEAL (122.5mg/kg body weight). After five weeks of treatment, hepatotoxicity was assessed using serum activities of Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP), Alanine amino Transferase (ALT), Gamma Glutamyl Transferase (GGT) and Aspartate amino Transferase (AST) by spectrophotometry. Clastogenicity was determined using bone marrow cytology to identify Micronucleated Polychromatic Erythrocytes (MnPCEs) by microscopy. Sperm counts, motility, viability and morphological abnormalities were estimated using microscopic techniques. Histology was carried out using Haematoxylin and Eosin. Data were analysed using Student’s t test at p = 0.05. Phytochemical screening revealed the presence of alkaloids, saponins, flavonoids and cardenolides. There were increased levels of liver enzymes on exposure to sodium arsenite compared with the control (ALP = 236.8 ± 15.2 vs 432.2 ± 41.4, ALT = 23.1 ± 5.9 vs 29.9 ± 2.8, GGT = 2.6 ± 1.9 vs 4.6 ± 1.6 and AST = 47.5 ± 9.2 vs 66.0 ± 15.6 U/L). The elevated levels of these enzymes were significantly reduced by about 2 folds in AEAL–treated rats compared with the sodium arsenite group (29.9 ± 2.8 vs 19.8 ± 3.1). The degree of reduction of MnPCEs was 2 folds in the treated-animals (15.4 ± 5.2 vs 26.5 ±2.1). The AEAL reversed the severe hepatic degeneration and necrosis induced by sodium arsenite and caused a significant decrease in sperm counts (126.1 ± 8.5 vs 85.5 ± 14.9) and motility (90.0 ± 10.0 vs 52.5 ± 15.0). However, there were significant increases in sperm viability (92.5 ± 3.5 vs 93.3 ± 4.0) and morphological abnormalities (10.1 ± 1.9 vs 13.4 ± 2.4). Aframomum longiscapum seed extract has protective effect against sodium-arsenite induced hepatotoxicity and clastogenicity in intoxicated rats. The extract however had deleterious side effects on male fertility in the treated rats. This plant extract should be administered with caution to human subjects given the provisional nature of these data.