Evaluation of the hepatoprotective activity of Fagonia cretica L

Dr. Haidar Abd Algadir
Plant Taxonomist, Herbarium Curator,
Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Research Institute National Research Center,
Khartoum, Sudan.

Fagonia cretica L. (Zygophyllaceae) herb is widely distributed in Sudan and used in Sudanese traditional medicine for the treatment of various disorders. The present study was designed to assess the hepatoprotective activity and cytotoxicity of methanolic and water extracts of F. cretica L. These extracts were studied for their hepatoprotective activity using CCl4 induced liver damage in wistar albino rats. The methanolic and water extracts of F. cretica L. at oral dose of (400 mg/kg) showed highly significant (p<0.01) hepatoprotective effect. These biochemical observations wereconfirmed by histopathological examinations of liver sections comparable with the standard hepatoprotective drug Silymarin (100 mg/kg) which served as a positive control.

Traditional medicine has a long history. It is the sum of knowledge, skill, and practices based on the theories, beliefs, and experience indigenous to different cultures, used in the maintenance of health as well as in the prevention [1]. Sudan is one of the largest countries in Africa with a diverse flora. Most of Sudanese people in rural areas rely on traditional medicine for the treatment of many infectious diseases. Sudanese traditional medicine is a unique combination of knowledge and practices of Arabic, Islamic and African cultures [2,3]. Medicinal plants have a promising future because there are about half million plants around the world, and most of their medical benefits have not been investigated yet, and their medical activities could be decisive in the treatment of present or future studies [4]. More than 80% of the world population in developing countries uses plant derived medicines and about half of the population in industrialized countries also are using traditional medicines practices to meet their healthcare needs [5,6]. In Sudan, people dependant on medicinal plants for health care is estimated at over 90% of the population, these plants and derived products play an important role in the primary health care of Sudan [7].

Liver is vital organ that play a major role in metabolism, energy production and bile production, storage of iron, vitamins and trace elements, detoxification and conversion of waste products for excretion by the kidneys [8]. Liver injury or liver dysfunction is a major health problem that challenges not only health care professionals but also the pharmaceutical industry and drug regulatory agencies. Liver cell injury caused by various toxicants (certain anti-biotic, chemotherapeutic agents, carbon tetrachloride (CCL4), thioacetamide (TAA) etc.), D-galactosamine, Paracetamol, excessive alcohol consumption and microbes [9,10]. A large number of plants and formulations have been claimed to posses hepatoprotective activity.

Liver diseases remain one of the serious health problems. In the absence of reliable liver protective drugs in allopathic medical practices, herbs play a role in the management of various liver disorders in ethnomedical practices as well as in traditional systems of medicine [19]. Liver damage induced by CCl4 is commonly used as model for the screening of hepatoprotective activity. The rise in serum levels of SGPT, SGOT and ALP, has been attributed to the damaged structural integrity of the liver, because they are cytoplasmic in location and released into circulation after cellular damages. Carbon tetrachloride induces hepatotoxicity by metabolic activation; therefore, it selectively causes toxicity in liver cells maintaining semi normal metabolic functions. CCl4 metabolically activated by Cytochromes P450 (CYPs) in the endoplasmic reticulum to form a trichloromethyl free radical (CCl3), which combined with cellular lipids and proteins in presence of oxygen to induce lipid peroxidation [20]. Highly reactive trichloro free radicals formation directly attacks the poly unsaturated fatty acids of the endoplasmic reticulum and thus cause over production of SGOT, SGPT and ALP. In the present study, pre-treatment with methanolic and water extracts of Fagonia cretica L. (200 mg/kg and 400 mg/kg) attenuated the increases in the activities of SGOT, SGPT and ALP levels in blood serum of CCl4 induced hepatotoxicity. Silymarin is a known hepatoprotective compound obtained from Silybum marianum family (Asteraceae) is reported to have a protective effect on hepatic plasma membrane and possess multiple mechanisms of actions against different hepatotoxic agents. The study shows that the methanolic and water extracts of Fagonia cretica L. at higher dose (400 mg/ kg) exhibited remarkable effect in lowering the high level of liver enzymes that occurred by CCl4 compared to standard drug Silymarin, But the histopathological findings showed that the methanolic extract was superior to the water extract in protecting the hepatocellular architecture against CCl4 induced toxicity.

In conclusion, preliminary phytochemical screening of extracts of Fagonia cretica L. showed the presence of some major bioactive compounds such as saponin, flavonoids and tannin, that can protect the liver. Fagonia cretica L. extracts showed cytotoxic effects. The methanolic and water extracts of F. cretica L. showed hepatoprotective activity. There is no previous study for hepatoprotective activity for F. cretica L. This plant can be considered as new biosource of hepatoprotective drugs

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