American Journal of Biomedical Research
ISSN (Print): 2328-3947 ISSN (Online): 2328-3955 Website: Editor-in-chief: Hari K. Koul
Open Access
Journal Browser
American Journal of Biomedical Research. 2014, 2(4), 61-66
DOI: 10.12691/ajbr-2-4-1
Open AccessArticle

Hepatotoxicity of Methanol Seed Extract of Aframomum melegueta [Roscoe] K. Schum. (Grains of paradise) in Sprague-Dawley Rats

Nwaehujor Chinaka O.1, , Eban Linus K.2, Ode Julius O.3, Ejiofor Charles E.4 and Igile Godwin O.1

1Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Calabar, P.M.B. 1115 Calabar, Nigeria

2Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Calabar, P.M.B. 1115 Calabar, Nigeria

3Department of Veterinary Pharmacology and Toxicology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Abuja, Nigeria

4Department of Veterinary Parasitology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Abuja, Nigeria

Pub. Date: October 20, 2014

Cite this paper:
Nwaehujor Chinaka O., Eban Linus K., Ode Julius O., Ejiofor Charles E. and Igile Godwin O.. Hepatotoxicity of Methanol Seed Extract of Aframomum melegueta [Roscoe] K. Schum. (Grains of paradise) in Sprague-Dawley Rats. American Journal of Biomedical Research. 2014; 2(4):61-66. doi: 10.12691/ajbr-2-4-1


The hepatotoxic effects of the seeds of Aframomum melegueta (Grains of paradise), a spice were studied in Sprague-Dawley rats. Individual rat groups received sub-chronic exposure of the methanol seed extract at 300 mg/kg for 7, 14 and 21 days respectively. Liver toxicity was evaluated with assay of circulating serum aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransaminase (ALT), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), albumin, total bilirubin concentrations and histopathology of the liver of treated experimental rats. Serum levels of AST significantly (p<0.05) increased progressively in extract-treated rats compared to the control from day 7 till the termination of the study (day 21). However, serum ALT, ALP and total bilirubin levels of test rats were only significantly (p<0.05) elevated relative to the normal on days 14 and 21 of the investigation. The dose (300 mg/kg) of extract produced AST value of 55.8±3 µL-1 while the control was 32.2±1.9 µL-1; and ALT value became 16.8±1.1 µL-1 when control was 8.6±1.1 µL-1 on day 21; Total bilirubin was 1.4±0.1 mgdL-1 relative to control value of 0.5±0.2 mgdL-1. The serum albumin levels of extract-treated rats were however, comparable with that of the normal rats throughout the study period. Histopathology of the rat livers revealed mild focal necrosis of hepatocytes at day 7, moderate multifocal areas of hepatic necrosis at day 14 and severe, diffused necrosis of hepatocytes at day 21 of treatment with the extract. The results demonstrated that the methanol seed extract of A. melegueta was potent in inducing liver toxicity at the tested dose (300 mg/kg). Maximal caution should therefore be imbibed in prolonged excessive use of the plant seeds as spice in delicacies.

Aframomum melegueta seeds Wistar rats toxicity liver enzymes albumin bilirubin

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit


[1]  Akendengue B and Louis AM (1994). Medicinal plants used by the Masango people in Gabon. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 41 (3): 193-2000.
[2]  Amal Abdulaziz B (2010) Prevalence of crude drugs used in Arab folk medicine available in Makkah Al-Mukarramah area. International Journal of Medicine and medical Science 2 (9): 256-262.
[3]  Cohen SZ (1986) Monitoring ground water for pesticides– Office of pesticide programme (TS-769C) - Environmental Protection Agency by American Chemical Society, Washington DC.
[4]  Council Directive 1986 86/609/EEC on the approximation of laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the member states regarding the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes (86/609/EEC), European Commission, Brussels (1986).
[5]  Beichner PE (1961) The grain of paradise. Speculum 32 (2): 302-307.
[6]  Dalziel JM (1937) The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. The Crown Agents for the Colonies, London. pp. 52-560.
[7]  Daniel FA (2004) Florida Ethnobotany. CRC press, USA. p. 170.
[8]  Directive 2010/63/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September, 2010 on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes, European Commission, Brussels (2010).
[9]  Dybas CL and Ilya R (2007) Out of Africa: A tale of gorillas, heart disease and a swamp plant. Bioscience 57: 392-397.
[10]  Echo IA, Osuagwu AN, Agbor RB, Okpako EC and Ekanem BE (2012) Phytochemical composition of Aframomum melegueta and Piper guineense seeds. World Journal of Applied Environmental Chemistry 2 (1): 17-21.
[11]  Hafez ESE (1970) Reproductive and breeding techniques for laboratory animals. Lea Fabiger, Philadelphia. pp. 10-31.
[12]  Harten AM (1970) Melegueta pepper. Economic Botany 24 (2): 208-216.
[13]  Ilic N, Schmidt BM, Poulev A and Raskin I (2010) Toxicological evaluation of grains of paradise (Aframomum melegueta [Roscoe] K. Schum). J. Ethnopharmacol. 127 (2): 352-6.
[14]  Jan Shin WU (2003) Transaminase GOT (AST) and GPT (ALT). International Journal of Pharmacology 1: 1-9.
[15]  Kinsley SR and Frankel SJ (1939) The determination of serum total protein and albumin- globulin ratio. J. Biol. Chem. 128: 131-7.
[16]  King EJ and King PR (1954). Estimation of phosphatase by determination of hydrolyzed phenol with antipyrin. J. Clin. Pathol. 7: 322-331.
[17]  Krishna KL, Mruthunjaya K and Patel JA (2009). Antioxidant and hepatoprotective activity of leaf extract of Justicia gendarussa Burm. Int. J. Biol. Chem. 3: 99-110.
[18]  Lewis JH and Schiff E (1988). Methotrexate-induced chronic liver injury: guidelines for detection and prevention. Am. J. Gastroenterol. 83: 1337.
[19]  Lorke D (1983). A new approach to practical acute toxicity testing, Archi. Toxicol. 54: 275-287.
[20]  Malloy HT and Evelyn KA (1937) The determination of bilirubin with the photometric colorimeter. J. Biol. Chem. 119: 481-490.
[21]  Meyer LJ (1962) Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics (3rd ed.). Iowa State University press, USA. p. 6.
[22]  Odugbemi T (2008) A textbook of Medicinal plants in Nigeria. Tolu press Lagos. p. 23-97.
[23]  Reitman S, Frankel S (1957) A colorimetric method for determination of serum glutamate oxaloacetate and glutamic pyruvate transaminase. Am. J. Clin. Pathol. 28: 56-58.
[24]  Robens JF and Richard JL (1992) Aflatoxins in animals and human health. Rev. Environ. Contam. Toxicl. 127: 69-94.
[25]  Simons DC (1956) Efik divination, ordeals, and omens. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 12 (2): 223-228.
[26]  Sugita J, Yoneshiro T, Hatano T, Aita S, Ikemoto T, Uchiwa H, Iwanaga T, Kameya T, Kawai Y. and Saito, M. (2013). Grains of paradise (Aframomum melegueta) extract activates brown adipose tissue and increases whole-body energy expenditure in men. British Journal of Nutrition 110 (4): 733-738.
[27]  Tietz N (1996) Liver function tests, nitrogen metabolites and renal function In: Fundamentals of Clinical Chemistry 3rd ed. W. B. Saunders, Philadelphia. pp. 476-576.
[28]  Thibodeau GA and Patton KT (1999) Anatomy & Physiology (4th ed.). Mosby Missouri, USA. pp. 753-756.
[29]  Tolman KG and Rej R (1999) Liver function. In: Tietz Textbook of Clinical Chemistry (3rd ed.). Burtis, C.A. and Ashwood, E.R. (Eds.) W.B. Saunders, Philadelphia, PA., USA. pp. 1125-1177.
[30]  Umukoro S and Ashorobi RB (2001) Effect of Aframomum melegueta seeds on thermal pain and on carrageenin-induced edema. Nigerian Quaterly Journal of Hospital Medicine 11: 220-225.
[31]  Ukeh DA, Umoetok SB, Bowman AS, Mordue AJ, Pickett JA and Birkett MA (2011) Alligator pepper, Aframomum melegueta and Ginger, Zingiber officinale, reduce stored maize infestation by the maize weevil, Sitophilus zeamais in traditional African granaries. Crop protection 32: 99-103.
[32]  Voeks R (2013) Ethnobotany of Brazil’s African Diaspora: The role of Floristic homogenization. African Ethnobotany in the Americas 395-416.
[33]  Wells FE (1988) Tests in Liver and Biliary Tract Disease. In: Varleys Practical Clinical Biochemistry. Gowenlock, H.A. (Ed.). CRC Press, Florida. pp. 561-593.
[34]  Yeung PK, Hubbard JW, Korchinski ED and Midha KK (1993) Pharmacokinetics of chlorpromazine and key metabolites. European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 45 (6): 563-9.