Effects of lipophilic and hydrophilic leaf extracts of Portulaca oleracea Linn.(Purslane) on male reproductive parameters in albino rats


Victoria C. Obinna, Hope D. Kagbo, Gabriel O. Agu

Objectives: To supply scientific information/literature on the use of Portulaca oleracea in enhancing fertility in males; either to validate or to refute this folkloric use. This study investigated the effect of the lipophilic and hydrophilic leaf extracts of P. oleracea on male reproductive parameters. Methods: The extracts were obtained using two extracting solvents—chloroform and 80% aqueous methanol in succession. Experimental animals were randomly divided into seven groups of 16 rats each. Group A (control) received 0.5 ml 20% Tween 80 (vehicle), groups B, C, and D received 125, 250, and 500 mg/kg of the lipophilic extract, respectively, and groups E, F, and G received 125, 250, and 500 mg/kg of the hydrophilic extract, respectively, for 60 days. On days 14, 28, 42, and 60, four rats from each group were weighed and anesthetized for sample collection. Blood (for testosterone), testes (weight and histomorphology), and sperm cells from caudal epididymis (for semen analysis) were collected. Results: Both extracts had no significant (p > 0.05) effect on testicular weight and histomorphology, and sperm cell characteristics but caused a significant (p < 0.05) increase in sperm count. Only the hydrophilic extract produced a significant (p < 0.05) reduction in the testosterone level. Conclusion: Leaf extracts of P. oleracea as used in this study improved spermatogenesis irrespective of the decline in testosterone level. This may justify the use of P. oleracea leaf extracts in enhancing fertility in males, although further studies are required to elucidate the mechanism and compounds associated with these properties.