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 »  Abstract
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Year : 2009  |  Volume : 41  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 273-277

Antiovulatory and estrogenic activity of Plumbago rosea leaves in female albino rats

Department of Pharmacognosy, B. R. Nahata College of Pharmacy and Research Center, Mhow Neemuch Road, Mandsaur - 458 001, Madhya Pradesh, India

Date of Submission14-Dec-2007
Date of Decision08-Apr-2009
Date of Acceptance23-Dec-2009
Date of Web Publication12-Feb-2010

Correspondence Address:
E Sheeja
Department of Pharmacognosy, B. R. Nahata College of Pharmacy and Research Center, Mhow Neemuch Road, Mandsaur - 458 001, Madhya Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0253-7613.59927

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 » Abstract 

Objective : To evaluate the effect of petroleum ether (60-80), chloroform, acetone, ethanol and aqueous extracts of Plumbago rosea leaves on the estrous cycle and to identify the estrogenic activity of active acetone and ethanol extracts in female albino rats.
Methods : Plant extracts were tested for their effect on the estrous cycle at two dose levels: 200 and 400 mg/kg, respectively. The effective acetone and ethanol extracts were further studied on estrogenic activity in rats. Histological studies of the uterus were carried out to confirm their estrogenic activity.
Results : The acetone and ethanol extracts were most effective in interrupting the normal estrous cycle of the rats (P<0.05, <0.01, <0.001). These later exhibited prolonged diestrous stage of the estrous cycle with consequent temporary inhibition of ovulation. The antiovulatory activity was reversible on discontinuation of treatment. Both the extracts showed significant estrogenic and antiestrogenic activity.
Conclusion : The acetone and ethanolic extracts of P. rosea leaves have an antifertility activity.

Keywords: Antiovulatory activity, estrous cycle, estrogenic activity, antiestrogenic activity, Plumbago rosea

How to cite this article:
Sheeja E, Joshi S B, Jain D C. Antiovulatory and estrogenic activity of Plumbago rosea leaves in female albino rats. Indian J Pharmacol 2009;41:273-7

How to cite this URL:
Sheeja E, Joshi S B, Jain D C. Antiovulatory and estrogenic activity of Plumbago rosea leaves in female albino rats. Indian J Pharmacol [serial online] 2009 [cited 2023 Jun 7];41:273-7. Available from: https://www.ijp-online.com/text.asp?2009/41/6/273/59927

 » Introduction Top

Population control is of immense importance for individual and national welfare. Although a variety of synthetic contraceptive agents are available, their use is associated with severe side-effects. [1] Hence, an approach was pursued to identify new antifertility agents from natural sources. Numerous indigenous drugs have been explained in folkloric Indian medicine for the management of various reproduction-related purposes. However, so far, no single plant is available that can be developed into a potent antifertility agent. [2]

Plumbago rosea L. (Plumbaginaceae), commonly known as Rakta Chitrak, [3] grows in the wild and in abundance in India. Traditionally, it is used in inflammatory disorders, skin diseases, [4] gastric acidity, constipation, abdominal pain [5] and as an abortifacient. [6],[7],[8] The roots of the plant have been reported to possess antitumor [9] and antiatherogenic [10] activities. The active constituents reported in this plant are plumbagin, [11] hydroxy-1,4-napthaquinone, sitosterol glycoside, fatty alcohol and tannins. [12]

So far, during the literature survey, it was found that the roots of this plant have been used for their antifertility and uterine activity. [13] The present study was carried out to evaluate the antifertility effect of P. rosea leaves. The uprooting of the plant could be avoided in case the antifertility action was observed.

 » Materials and Methods Top

Plant material

The leaves of P. rosea L. were collected from Kanyakumari district, T.N., and positively identified by Dr. H. S. Chatree, Botanist, Govt. Arts and Science College, Mandsaur, M.P. Voucher specimen (P/002/2006/BRNCOP) was deposited in the herbarium of the Department of Pharmacognosy, BRNCP, Mandsaur.


The leaves of the plant were shade dried and powdered. The powdered material was extracted using petroleum ether (60-80 0 ) for 72 h and successively extracted with chloroform, acetone, ethanol and water for 72 h each in a soxhlet apparatus. The extracts were evaporated under reduced pressure to obtain solid masses and the percentage yield of the extracts was found to be 2.32%, 2.05%, 1.5%, 4.57% and 25.6%, respectively.

Phytochemical screening

In order to determine the presence of alkaloids, glycosides, flavones, tannins, terpenes, sterols, saponins, fats and sugars, a preliminary phytochemical study (color reactions) with leaf extracts was performed. [14]


Female albino rats (Wistar strain weighing 150-200 g) were used for antiovulatory activity and immature female rats (Wistar strain), 21-23 days old, were used for estrogenic activity. The animals were housed in standard environmental conditions of temperature (21 ± 2 0 C), humidity (55 ± 10%) and a 12-h light-dark cycle. Rats were supplied with standard pellet diet and water ad libitum. The animals were acclimatized to laboratory hygienic conditions for 10 days before starting the experiment. Animal study was performed in the Division of Pharmacology, B R Nahata College of Pharmacy, Mandsaur, with due permission from the Institutional Animal Ethics Committee (Reg no. 918/ac/05/CPCSEA).

Acute toxicity studies

The acute toxicity test of the extracts was determined according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development guidelines no. 420. Female Wistar rats (150-180 g) were used for this study. After the sighting study, a starting dose of 2,000 mg/kg (p.o.) of the test samples were given to various extract groups containing five animals in each groups. The treated animals were monitored for 14 days for mortality and general behavior.

Antifertility activity

Antiovulatory activity

Experiments were carried out in female Wistar rats weighing (150-200 g). The vaginal smear of each rat was examined daily between 9-10 A.M for 15 days to select the animals showing regular cycles (4-5 days). [15] The selected rats were divided into 11 groups of six animals each. The extracts were administered orally for five days to cover one regular estrous cycle. Group I received vehicle (1% Tween 80, p.o. daily) and served as control. Groups II to XI received petroleum ether, chloroform, acetone, ethanol and aqueous extracts of P. rosea leaves at 200 and 400 mg/kg body weight. Vaginal smear from each animal was observed every morning between 9-10 A.M for five days of treatment and subsequently for 15 days.

Estrogenic and antiestrogenic activity

The extracts with antiovulatory activity were further studied for the estrogenic and antiestrogenic activity. [16] Immature female Wistar strain rats, 25-30 days old, weighing between 35 and 45 g, were divided into 10 groups of six rats each. The first group served as control and received vehicle only (1% Tween 80). The second group received ethinyl estradiol (standard) in distilled water, 0.02 mg/kg body weight. The third, fourth, fifth and sixth groups received acetone and ethanolic extracts of P. rosea leaves at two dose levels, 200 and 400 mg/kg body weight, respectively. The groups VII to X received ethinyl estradiol in addition to a test dose of acetone and ethanolic extract of the plant at the same dose. All the above treatments were given for three days (p.o.). On the fourth day, the rats were sacrificed by decapitation, the uteri dissected out and the surrounding tissues were removed. The uteri were blotted on filter papers and weighed quickly on a sensitive balance and fixed in Bouin's fluid for 24 h. The paraffin-embedded tissues were cut at 6 µm and stained with hematoxylin-eosin solution for histological observations.

Statistical analysis

The data were statistically analyzed and expressed as mean±SEM. Statistical analysis of the variance between control and experimental values was performed by Student's t-test.

 » Results Top

Phytochemical screening

The phytochemical screening of different extracts of P. rosea leaves revealed the presence of various constituents, as shown in [Table 1].

Acute toxicity studies

No mortality and behavioral changes were observed in the treated groups up to 2,000 mg/kg body weight. The 400 mg/kg dose was chosen as maximum dose for further experiments.

Effect of extract on the estrous cycle of rats

The present study revealed that the acetone and ethanol extracts of P. rosea leaves showed an antifertility effect. Treatment of rats with acetone and ethanolic extracts for five days prolonged the estrous cycle significantly (P<0.05, <0.01, <0.001), as indicated in [Table 2]. The estrous cycle in rats treated with acetone and ethanolic extracts showed reduced duration of estrous and metestrous phases, characterized by a prolongation of the diestrous phase. Withdrawal of the treatment did not indicate any significant change either in the four phases of the estrous cycle or in the duration of the cycle. Acetone extract was found to be more active.

Estrogenic and antiestrogenic activity

The effect of both acetone and ethanolic extracts of P. rosea leaves on immature rat uterus is shown in [Table 3]. Oral administration of the extracts at 200 and 400 mg/kg body weight caused a significant increase in the uterine weight in immature rats (P<0.05, <0.01, <0.001). The thickness of the endometrium was significantly increased when compared to the control rats [Figure 1] and [Figure 2]. The endometrium epithelium consisted of spindle-shaped cells with basal nuclei and the endometrial glands were dilated. The stroma consisted of loose and edematous fibroblast-type cells with edema [Figure 3]. The control rats showed closed vagina whereas the treated rats showed an open vagina.

The administration of acetone and ethanol extracts aggravated a significant increase in the uterine wet weight, signifying the estrogenic activity. However, when treated with ethinyl estradiol, it lowered the effect of estrogenic activity produced by ethinyl estradiol alone [Figure 4],[Table 3]. Comparatively, the acetone extract was found to be more active.

 » Discussion Top

The acetone and ethanolic extracts of P. rosea leaves exhibited significant (P<0.05, P<0.01, <0.001) antifertility activity. The duration of the estrous cycle in rats is normally 4-5 days. Three cell types are found in the vaginal smear during a normal rat estrous cycle. The presence and absence of these cell types, and the relative proportion of each cell type, determine the stages of the estrous cycle [Figure 5]. Of the five extracts tested for the antiovulatory activity, acetone and ethanol extracts produced a temporary and reversible modification on the estrous cycle. The prolongation in the diestrous phase explains the remote possibility of the rats getting pregnant. The reversible nature of the antifertility activity of the extract is explained through the observation that there was no significant change in the diestrous and the estrous cycle after withdrawing the extract from those of the control. As a result, the extracts provoked inhibition of the ovulation with consequent reduction of the cyclicity. Estrous cycle and the shift in different stages are mainly governed by the synthesis of ovarian estrogen, which, in turn, is controlled by the secretion of pituitary gonadotropins and hypothalamic-releasing factor. [15]

The extracts with the antiovulatory activity were further studied for their estrogenic and antiestrogenic activity. These extracts also exhibited estrogenic activity as shown by the significant increase in the diameter of the uterus, uterine weight and thickness of the endometrial epithelium when compared with the control. It was also observed that the acetone and ethanol extracts suppressed the action of ethinyl estradiol when administered together. The extracts showed a significant estrogen-like activity when given alone but, with ethinyl estradiol, they exhibited a slight antiestrogenic nature. This indicates that the extract acted as a competitive antagonist to the more potent ethinyl estradiol. [17]

Preliminary phytochemical studies indicated the presence of tannins, flavonoids, triterpenoids and napthaquinone in the acetone extract and the ethanol extract showed the presence of carbohydrates, glycosides, tannins, flavonoids and saponins. According to the literatures, flavonoids and plumbagin (napthaquinone) are known to exhibit antifertility activity. [1],[17],[18] In our study, it is not solely the presence of napthaquinones or flavonoids that produced the antifertility activity because the petroleum ether extract contains napthaquinones and was devoid of any activity. On the other hand, irrespective of the absence of napthaquinones, the ethanol extract displayed significant activity when compared with controls, indicating that flavonoids could be responsible for the activity. The synergism produced by napthaquinones along with flavonoid could be the reason for the enhanced activity of the acetone extract when compared with that of the ethanol extract.

 » Conclusion Top

The results of the present study indicate that the acetone and ethanolic extracts of P. rosea leaves have significant antifertility activity. The leaves of this plant could be used to induce abortion. The extracts of this plant can be further explored for contraceptive use.

 » Acknowledgment Top

The authors are thankful to the Director, BRNCOP, for providing all the necessary facilities to carry out this research work.

 » References Top

1.Vaidya P, Padmashali S, Vagdevi HM, Sathyanarayana ND. Antifertility effect of the plant Balanites roxburghii (Balanitaceae) in female rats. Indian J Pharm Sci 2006;3:347-51.  Back to cited text no. 1      
2.Hiremath SP, Rudresh K, Badami S, Patil SB, Patil SR. Post-coital antifertility activity of Acalypha indica L. J Ethnopharmacol 1999;67:253-8.   Back to cited text no. 2  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]  
3.Kritikar RK, Basu DB. Indian Medicinal Plants Delhi: Jayyed Press; 1975.   Back to cited text no. 3      
4.Dorni AIC, Vidyalakshmi KS, Hannah RV, Rajamanickam GV, Dubey GP. Antiinflammatory activity of Plumbago capensis. Pharmacognosy Mag 2006;2:239-43.  Back to cited text no. 4      
5.Misra MK, Behera SK, Panda A, Behera SK. Medicinal plants used by the Kandhas of Kandhamal district of Orissa. Ind J Trad Knowledge 2006;5:519-28.  Back to cited text no. 5      
6.Nath SC, Purkayastha J. Biological activity of ethnomedical claim of some plant species of Assam. Ind J Trad Knowledge 2004;5:229-36.  Back to cited text no. 6      
7.Sarma HN, Mahanta HC. Effects of composite root extract on rat granulosa cells: A transmission electron microscopic observations. J Exp Zool 2000;3:217-21.  Back to cited text no. 7      
8.Dhal NK, Rout NC, Thirunavoukkarasu M. Plumbago indica Linn. (Plumbaginaceae): A specific case study for birth control among the Jani tribe of Orissa. Ethnobot 2000;12:27-8.  Back to cited text no. 8      
9.Devi PU, Solomon FE, Sharada AC. In vivo tumor inhibitory and radiosensitizing effects of an Indian medicinal plant, Plumbago rosea on experimental mouse tumors. Indian J Exp Biol 1994;32:523-8.  Back to cited text no. 9  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]  
10.Mary NK, Babu BH, Padikkala J. Antiatherogenic effect of Caps HT2, a herbal Ayurvedic medicine formulation. Phytomedicine 2003;10:474-82.   Back to cited text no. 10  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]  
11.Devi PU, Rao BS, Solomon FE. Effect of plumbagin on the radiation induced cytogenetic and cell cycle changes in mouse Ehrlich ascites carcinoma in vivo. Indian J Exp Biol 1998;36:891-5.   Back to cited text no. 11  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]  
12.Anonymous. The Wealth of India. Vol.8. New Delhi: Council for Scientific and Industrial Research; 1985.  Back to cited text no. 12      
13.Lal R, Sankaranarayanan A, Mathur VS. Antifertility and uterine activity of Plumbago rosea in rats. Indian J Med Res 1993;78:287-90.   Back to cited text no. 13      
14.Khandelwal KR. Practical Pharmacognosy. Pune: Nirali Prakashan; 2005.  Back to cited text no. 14      
15.Circosta C, Sanogo R, Occhiuto F. Effects of Calotropis procera on estrous cycle and on estrogenic functionality in rats. Farmaco 2001;56:373-8.  Back to cited text no. 15  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]  
16.Kamath JV, Rana AC. Preliminary study on antifertility activity of Calotropis procera roots in female rats. Fitoterapia 2002;73:111-5  Back to cited text no. 16  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]  
17.Badami S, Aneesh R, Sankar S, Sathishkumar MN, Suresh B, Rajan S. Antifertility activity of Derris brevipes variety Coriacea. J Ethnopharmacol 2003;84:99-104.   Back to cited text no. 17  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]  
18.Devarshi P, Patil S, Kanase A. Effect of Plumbago zeylanica root powder induced pre implantationary loss and abortion on uterine luminal proteins in albino rats. Indian J Exp Biol 1991;29:521-2.  Back to cited text no. 18  [PUBMED]    


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5]

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]

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