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In-vitro alpha amylase inhibitory activity of the leaf extracts of Adenanthera pavonina
© The Author(s). 2016
Received: 25 July 2016
Accepted: 9 November 2016
Published: 15 November 2016
Diabetes has caused a major burden to the health sector in the developing countries and has shown an increasing trend among the urban population. It is estimated that most patients are with type II diabetes which could be easily treated with dietary changes, exercise, and medication. Sri Lanka carries a long history ayurvedic medicine where it uses the plant for treating many diseases. Therefore it is important to screen medicinal plants scientifically so they could be used safely and effectively in the traditional medical system and also be used for further investigations.
Adenanthera pavonina is a plant used in the Ayurvedic medical system in Sri Lanka for treating many diseases including diabetics. We evaluated the anti-diabetic properties and the antioxidant properties of Adenanthera pavonina leaves.
The methanol extract of the leaves was sequentially extracted with petroleum ether and thereafter was partitioned between EtOAc, and water. The α-amylase inhibition assay was performed using the 3,5- dinitrosalicylic acid method. The antioxidant activities were measured using the DPPH free radical scavenging activity and the total phenolic content using Folin-Ciocalteu’s reagent. The cytotoxicity of the extract was evaluated using the Brine shrimp bioassay.
The IC50 values of α amylase inhibitory activity of MeOH, EtOAc, petroleum ether, and water were 16.16 ± 2.23, 59.93 ± 0.25, 145.49 ± 4.86 and 214.85 ± 9.72 μg/ml respectively and was similar to that of Acarbose (18.63 ± 1.21 (μg/ml). Antioxidant activities were also determined and the EtOAc fraction showed the highest total phenolic content (34. 62 ± 1.14 mg/g extract) and the highest DPPH scavenging activity with an IC50 of 249.92 ± 3.35 μg/ml.
The leaf extracts of Adenanthera pavonina exhibit remarkable α-amylase inhibitory activity in the crude methanolic extract. Hence leaves of Adenanthera pavonina has a potential to be used as a regular green vegetable and also be investigated further in isolating pure compounds with anti-diabetic activity.
It is estimated that the global prevalence of diabetes is increasing each year causing a major burden to the health sector, especially in the developing countries. It is estimated that the prevalence of diabetes is high among the urban population  where 90% is accounted to be type II diabetic . Patients with type II diabetes can be easily treated with dietary changes, exercise, and medication. The complications arising with diabetes are closely related to the production of free radicals enhancing the oxidative stress . Hence the use of antioxidants has been effective in reducing the severity of diabetic complications .
The traditional medical systems in countries like China, India, North Africa and Sri Lanka use decoctions or fresh mixtures of juices made from medicinal plants in treating most diseases like cancer, arthritis, diabetics etc. Adenanthera pavonina (Madatiya –Sinhala, Circassian bean–English) belonging to the family Fabaceae; used in traditional herbal medicine for a variety of diseases including diabetes, lipid disorders, diarrhea, hemorrhage, and as an anti-inflammatory agent . Phytochemical investigations of the plant have identified many compounds which are steroids, glycosides, alkaloids, saponins, polysaccharides, fatty acids and various amino acids [5, 6] with no claims of any of the above compounds to be active as an antidiabetic compound. Studies performed on the seed and leaf extracts on rat models have shown to possess hypoglycemic and antihyperglycemic activity . The seeds are reported to be toxic, but some consume the roasted seed while the suburban population in countries like India and Sri Lanka, consumes the tender leaves as a green vegetable in their regular diet (http://www.worldagroforestry.org/treedb/AFTPDFS/Adenanthera_pavonina.PDF).
It is important to evaluate the antidiabetic activity of the leaves quantitatively which would allow the use of Adenanthera pavonina (A. pavonina) leaves in a more efficient and effective manner in treating diabetics. Therefore the present investigation was carried out to evaluate the in-vitro α - amylase inhibitory activity and the antioxidant activity of the leaf extracts of A. pavonina.
All chemicals used were of analytical reagent grade. 1,1-Diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl radical (DPPH), 3,5 dinitro salicylic acid (DNSA), Gallic acid and α-amylase from Aspergillus oryzae purchased from (Sigma USA). Dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) was purchased Sigma-Aldrich. UV-visible spectrophotometer (Thermo Fisher Scientific G10S).
Collection of plant materials: Fresh leaves of A. pavonina were collected from Peradeniya and their authenticity was confirmed by The National Herbarium, Royal Botanic Gardens, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.
Air-dried, powdered leaves (200 g) of A. pavonina were extracted with methanol (MeOH) at room temperature for 2 × 24 h using 1500 ml of MeOH for each extraction. The combined MeOH extracts were concentrated under vacuum at 40 °C to 1 L and were partitioned into petroleum ether (2 × 500 ml). The combined petroleum ether fraction was filtered and dried over anhydrous Na2SO4 and was evaporated under vacuum to dryness. The dried petroleum ether extract was refrigerated in a tightly closed container until use. The remaining methanol fraction was evaporated under vacuum to dryness and residue was partitioned between ethyl acetate (EtOAc, 1 L) and water (1 L). The ethyl acetate extract was dried over anhydrous Na2SO4 and was evaporated under vacuum to dryness and refrigerated until further use. The aqueous fraction was frozen and freeze-dried and the residue was stored in the refrigerator until further use.
In vitro α-amylase inhibitory studies
Antioxidant activity of A. pavonina leaf extract
DPPH radical scavenging activity
Total phenolic content
The total phenolic content of A.pavonina was determined spectrophotometrically using Folin-Ciocalteu’s reagent. The extract (100 μl ;1 mg/ml) was mixed with 100 μl of Folin-Ciocalteu’s phenol reagent and kept for 5 min. A volume of 1.00 ml of a 7% Na2CO3 solution was added to the reaction mixture followed by addition of 1.30 ml of deionized (DI) water. The mixture was kept in the dark at ambient temperature for 90 min and thereafter the absorbance measured at 750 nm. A calibration graph was prepared using Gallic acid as the standard and the total phenolic content in the extract was expressed as milligrams of Gallic acid equivalents in one gram of extract [10, 11].
Brine shrimp cytotoxicity bioassay
The plant extract was dissolved initially in 100 μl of DMSO and was further dissolved in artificial sea water to give concentrations ranging from 125 to 1000 μg/ml. Artificial sea water was prepared using the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory protocol, 2011 . A 26.29 g of NaCl (450 mM), 0.74 g KCl (10 mM), CaCl2 0.99 g (9 mM), MgCl2•6H2O 6.09 g (30 mM) and MgSO4•7H2O 3.94 g (16 mM) was dissolved in 1 L deionized water and was filtered by using Whatmann filter paper No. 42. The pH of the solution was adjusted to 7.8 and autoclaved and was store at 4 °C until use (maximum for 1 week). Two milliliters of the extract solution was added into separate test tubes and ten mature brine shrimps were added into each test tube. The test tubes were incubated at 30 °C for 24 h and counted the live shrimp under magnification. The number of deaths of shrimps was plotted against extract concentration and the LD50 value was estimated . Potassium dichromate dissolved in artificial seawater at concentrations ranging from 125 to 1000 μg/ml was used as positive controls of the experiment. Each experiment was performed in was performed in triplicates.
In vitro α-amylase inhibitory studies
Total Phenolic Content (as Gallic acid equivalents), IC50 (μg/ml) of DPPH scavenging activity and IC50 (μg/ml) of α amylase inhibitory activity of Adenanthera pavonina leaf extracts
Total Phenolic Content (Gallic acid equivalents mg/g extract)
DPPH Scavenging Activity (IC50 (μg/ml)
α-amylase inhibitory activity IC50 (μg/ml)
9.73 ± 0.12
423.62 ± 2.45
16.16 ± 2.23
34. 62 ± 1.14
249.92 ± 3.35
59.93 ± 0.25
13.46 ± 0.11
751.66 ± 4.91
145.49 ± 4.86
2.88 ± 0.23
214.85 ± 9.72
Total phenolic content
DPPH radical scavenging activity
Brine shrimp cytotoxicity assay
LD50 values lower than 1000 μg/ml is considered to be cytotoxic in the toxicity evaluation of plant extracts using brine shrimp assay . The LD50 value of the crude methanol extract of A. pavonina leaves was estimated to be 1963.936 μg/ml indicating the absence of cytotoxic compounds in the extract.
The trend in the screening of medicinal plants for antidiabetic activity has increased, as it is important to discover novel effective drugs for the disease. However, the WHO has recommended daily exercise and healthy food intake as an effective method of controlling the diabetes type II . Therefore promoting the urban population for a healthy living style with the use of greens that possess anti-diabetic activity and antioxidant activity in their daily diet would be one of the cost-effective ways of controlling the disease. Though seed and leaf extracts have exhibited hypoglycemic and antihyperglycemic activity as tested on rat models this study would be the first report on detailed α- amylase inhibitory activity study to the best of our knowledge.
The α-amylase inhibitory studies performed demonstrated that the extracts of A.pavonina (crude MeOH, EtOAc, pet-ether and water) had significant inhibitory potentials. The IC50 value (16.16 ± 2.30 μg/ml) of methanol extracts is almost similar to that of Acarbose (18.63 ± 1.21 μg/ml) a widely used and marketed anti-diabetic drug. These α- amylase inhibitors are also called as starch blockers as they prevent or slows the absorption of starch into the body mainly by blocking the hydrolysis of 1,4-glycosidic linkages of starch and other oligosaccharides into maltose, maltriose and other simple sugars . The α amylase inhibitory activity in methanol extract is most likely to be due to polar compounds and is worth investigating further and isolating pure active compounds.
It is predicted that diabetic complications occur as a result of the oxidative stress due to the formation of free radicals with the glucose oxidation and the subsequent oxidative degradation of glycated proteins . Therefore the use of antioxidants along with anti-diabetic drugs are frequently recommended to avoid such complications. The antioxidant activities measured by DPPH scavenging properties and the total phenolic content of the A. pavonina leaf extracts reveals all extracts does possess mild antioxidant properties with ethyl acetate fraction exhibiting the best DPPH scavenging property (IC50 of 249.92 ± 3.35 μg/ml) and with the highest total phenolic content of 34. 62 ± 1.14 (Gallic acid equivalents mg/g extract). The preliminary investigation carried out on cytotoxicity using brine shrimps show that the methanol leaf extract does not carry toxic compounds as the LD50 value was higher than 1 mg/ml (1963.936 μg/ml).
Hence the above results suggest that the leaf extracts of A. pavonina could be greatly beneficial in reducing the absorption of starch into the body also can be effectively used in ayurvedic treatments. Since leaves of A. pavonina is used mostly among the rural population as a green vegetable use of this leafy vegetable can be promoted among the urban population for its health benefits especially in the management of diabetics.
According to the result of the study on the leaf extracts of Adenanthera pavonina exhibit α-amylase inhibitory activity with remarkable activity in the crude methanolic extract. Hence leaves of Adenanthera pavonina has the potential to be used as a green vegetable and also be used in ayurvedic decoctions in controlling and treatment of Type II diabetes mellitus. Furthermore, this study has opened opportunities for future research in searching for novel effective drugs for diabetics that possess both antioxidant activity and anti-diabetic activity.
University of Peradeniya.
Availability of data and material
All data generated or analyzed during this study are included this published article.
JCP-Performing all research experiments. MNW-Research Advisor and preparation of the manuscript. DBMW-Research advisor and providing funds for the research. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Ms. J.C. Punchihewa (BSc Pharmacy)
Research Student/Demonstrator at the Department of Pharmacy Faculty of Allied Health Sciences, University of Peradeniya Peradeniya Sri Lanka. email@example.com
Dr. M. Nirmali Wickramaratne (Ph.D. Biochemistry)
Senior Lecturer Gr I/Research advisor attached to the Department of Physical Sciences and Technology, Faculty of Applied Sciences, Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka, Belihuloya, Sri Lanka. firstname.lastname@example.org
Prof. D.B.M. Wickramaratne (Ph.D. Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy)
Professor/Research advisor Faculty of Allied Health Sciences University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. email@example.com
The authors declare that they have no competing interests. Non-financial competing interests include (but are not limited to) political, personal, religious, ideological, academic, and intellectual competing interests.
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