Phytochemical content of Cnidoscolus aconitifolius and toxicological eff ect of its aqueous leaf extract in Wistar rats


D. Akachukwu, P. N. Okafor, C. O. Ibegbulem

Objective: Recent research on medicinal plants indicates that some plant extract are not only beneficial in the treatment of ailments, but could also be toxic. Aqueous extract of Cnidoscolus aconitifolius leaves is consumed for various reasons in traditional medicine. This study considers possible toxicological effects of aqueous leaf extract of C. aconitifolius using biochemical and histological indices of liver and kidney function as well as hematological indices in rats. Materials and Methods: In this study, phytochemical screening of C. aconitifolius leaves was carried out. Sub-acute toxicity tests were done using 20 male albino rats (4-6 weeks old; body weight, 132.20 ± 48.10 g). They were grouped into four groups of five rats each and fed pelletized Grower’s mash incorporated 100, 200, and 400 mg/kg body weight of the extract for 28 days. The control group received pelletized Grower’s mash and water only. At the end of the feeding period, blood was collected through cardiac puncture for biochemical and hematological examinations. The liver and kidneys were also collected for histological studies and relative organ weights. Results: Phytochemical analysis of the plant leaves showed mean concentrations (%) of tannins, saponins, cyanogenic glycosides, alkaloids, phenols, flavonoids, and steroids at 0.14, 4.04, 0.003, 4.72, 0.19, 2.36, and 0.27, respectively. Incorporation of the aqueous extract into the diets of rats at 100, 200, and 400 mg/kg body weight for 28 days resulted in nonsignificant (P > 0.05) effects on the relative organ weights, total protein, globulin, aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase and alkaline phosphatase activities, total and conjugated bilirubin, creatinine, platelet, red blood cell, white blood cell, neutrophils, lymphocytes, eosinophils, and basophils concentrations. However, blood monocyte concentrations were significantly decreased (P < 0.05) in rats administered 100 and 200 mg/kg body weight of extract. Histopathological studies showed that organs of the treated animals studied were not damaged. Conclusion: The results suggested that the aqueous leaf extract of C. aconitifolius had low toxicity at the concentrations investigated.