American Journal of Biomedical Research. 2014, 2(4), 61-66DOI:
Abstract: 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.