Document Type : Original Research Article


1 Department of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

2 Department of Pharmacognosy and Herbal Medicine, Faculty of Pharmacy, Delta State University, Abraka, Nigeria.

3 Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, Taraba State University Jalingo.

4 Department of Hematology, Laboratory Sciences Division, Sancta Maria Clinic Integrated Laboratory, fhi360/USAID Affiliate, Bali, Nigeria.



Melastomastrum capitatum is a plant whose leaf extract is popularly known for its ability to cure cancer of the ovary in Mambila plateau towns in Nigeria. Apart from the leaves, the root extract has been used to manage various diseases such as bacterial infections, pains, and diabetes. As a result of these health benefits, liver and vital organ damage are often associated with short (acute) or long (subchronic) intake of this plant decoction in  traditional medicines. This present study was carried out to determine short and long (subchronic)  terms effect of the root aqueous extract for the treatment of diseases especially diabetes by the Fulani tribe in Mambila plateau in Taraba State, Nigeria. Acute and subchronic toxicity studies were carried out following the guidelines stipulated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In the acute toxicity study, a limit test dose of 2000 mg/kg body weight (b.w) of aqueous root extract was administered by oral route into five Swiss albino mice consisting of five groups of one mouse per group. Observations were carefully made for signs of toxicity for the first 4 hours and then once daily for 2 weeks. A lower dose of 300 mg/kg b.w administered to the mice do not show any sign of acute toxicity unlike the higher dose which produced signs such a reddish eyes, itching and restlessness which last only a few minutes of extract administration. Subchronic toxicity study revealed that root extract of the plant is slightly toxic as had shown by results of most of blood parameters investigated such as WBC, PCV, ALT, AST, ALP, serum electrolytes, etc.  However, our results showed that root aqueous extract of M. capitatum is well tolerated at the doses investigated as there was no major damage to vital organs like the liver, kidney and heart of the animals. The study therefore showed that the root extract of the plant is safe for use as an ethnomedicinal prescription for diseases in traditional medicine.

Graphical Abstract

Acute and subchronic toxicity profiles of Melastomastrum capitatum (Vahl) Fern. (Melastomataceae) root aqueous extract in Swiss albino mice


Main Subjects


[1] J.R. Tabuti, K.A. Lye and S.S. Dhillion, Traditional herbal drugs of Bulamogi, Uganda: plants, use and administration. J Ethnopharmacol,  88 (2003)  19-44.

[2] A. Gupta and H. Chitme, Herbal medicine for health. The eastern pharmacist,  43 (2000)  41-5.

[3] S.N. Yoganarasiman, Medicinal plants of India-Tamilnadu. Vol. 2. (2000).

[4] Z.-G. Wang and J. Ren, Current status and future direction of Chinese herbal medicine. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences,  23 (2002)  347-348.

[5] A. Sofowora, Medicinal plants and traditional medicine in Africa. (1996): Karthala.

[6] U. Epundu, E. Adinma, B. Ogbonna and O. Epundu, Medical tourism, public health and economic development in Nigeria: Issues and Prospects. Asian Journal of Medicine and Health,  7 (2017)  1-10.

[7] H.M. Burkill, The useful plants of west tropical Africa. Volume 2: Families EI. (1994): Royal Botanic Gardens.

[8] OECD, Draft Guidance Document on the Design and Conduct of Chronic Toxicity and Carcinogenicity Studies. . OECD Series on Testing and Assessment Vol. 116. (2009), Paris.

[9] A. Hutchings, Zulu medicinal plants: An inventory. (1996): University of Natal press.

[10] J. Nebedum, K. Ajeigbe, E. Nwobodo, C. Uba, O. Adesanya, O. Fadare and D. Ofusori, Comparative study of the ethanolic extracts of four Nigerian plants against some pathogenic microorganisms. Res J Med Plant,  3 (2009)  23-28.

[11] H. Fluck, Medicinal Plants and Their uses. Vol. . (2013), New York: W. Fulsome and Comp. Ltd, .

[12] C.A. Ukwubile, I.E. Oise and A.I. Bruno, Application of Melastomastrum capitatum Fern.(Melastomataceae) loaded-exosome as analgesic drug carrier in acetic acid-induced Swiss albino mice. Molecular Biology Research and Innovations,  1 (2016)  19-23.

[13] J.D. Bancroft and M. Gamble, Theory and practice of histological techniques. (2008): Elsevier health sciences.

[14] A. Babaei, M. Aminikhah and A.R. Taheri, A Multi-Walled Carbon Nano-Tube and Nickel Hydroxide Nano-Particle Composite-Modified Glassy Carbon Electrode as a New Sensor for the Sensitive Simultaneous Determination of Ascorbic Acid, Dopamine and Uric Acid. Sensor letters,  11 (2013)  413-422.

[15] T.N. OECD, 423: Acute Oral toxicity–Acute Toxic Class Method. OECD Guidelines for the Testing of Chemicals, Section,  4 (2001) 

[16] Y. Saidu, F. Nwachukwu, L. Bilbis, U. Faruk and A. Abbas, Toxicity studies of the crude aqueous root extract of albizzia chevalieri harms in albino rats. Nigerian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences,  18 (2010) 

[17] G. Mbaka, O. Adeyemi and A. Oremosu, Acute and sub-chronic toxicity studies of the ethanol extract of the leaves of Sphenocentrum jollyanum (Menispermaceae). Agriculture and Biology Journal of North America,  1 (2010)  265-272.

[18] O. Olorunnisola, G. Bradley and A. Afolayan, Acute and sub-chronic toxicity studies of methanolic extract of Tulbaghia violacea rhizomes in Wistar rats. African Journal of Biotechnology,  11 (2012)  14934-14940.

[19] V. Fuster, J. Eric and E. Nabel, Pathno-biology of asymptomatic arthrosclerosis leading to symptomatic artherothrombosis. J. Am. Cardiol,  46 (2005)  937-941.

[20] W.M. Kluwe, Renal function tests as indicators of kidney injury in subacute toxicity studies. Toxicology and applied pharmacology,  57 (1981)  414-424.

[21] S. Sasser, M. Varghese, A. Kellermann and J. Lormand, Prehospital trauma care systems. 2005. Geneva: World Health Organization,

[22] T.S. Ballard, P. Mallikarjunan, K. Zhou and S. O’Keefe, Microwave-assisted extraction of phenolic antioxidant compounds from peanut skins. Food Chemistry,  120 (2010)  1185-1192.

[23] J.T. Mukinda and J.A. Syce, Acute and chronic toxicity of the aqueous extract of Artemisia afra in rodents. Journal of ethnopharmacology,  112 (2007)  138-144.

[24] S. Tiwari, Plants: A rich source of herbal medicine. Journal of natural products,  1 (2008)  27-35.

[25] B. Thapa and A. Walia, Liver function tests and their interpretation. The Indian Journal of Pediatrics,  74 (2007)  663-671.

[26] J. Ozer, M. Ratner, M. Shaw, W. Bailey and S. Schomaker, The current state of serum biomarkers of hepatotoxicity. Toxicology,  245 (2008)  194-205.

[27] P.W. Wilson, R.D. Abbott, R.J. Garrison and W.P. Castelli, Estimation of very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol from data on triglyceride concentration in plasma. Clinical chemistry,  27 (1981)  2008-2010.

[28] K. Kamari and A. Taheri, Preparation and evaluation of magnetic core–shell mesoporous molecularly imprinted polymers for selective adsorption of amitriptyline in biological samples. Journal of the Taiwan Institute of Chemical Engineers,  86 (2018)  230-239.

[29] D. Chokshi, Subchronic oral toxicity of a standardized white kidney bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) extract in rats. Food and chemical toxicology,  45 (2007)  32-40.

[30] M.I. Ezeja, A.O. Anaga and I.U. Asuzu, Acute and sub-chronic toxicity profile of methanol leaf extract of Gouania longipetala in rats. Journal of ethnopharmacology,  151 (2014)  1155-1164.