The effect of an alcoholic extract of fruits of Jatropha curcas on some of the reproductive processes in the female albino rat (Rattus norvegicus)
Jairopha curcas is reported to be one of the many herbs used to terminate pregnancy in Ghana. Notwithstanding the folkioric claim that Jatropha curcas is an effective abortifacient herb, there are also wide speculations about the adverse effects of the herb on the users including death. The present work investigated the effect of an alcoholic extract of fruits of Jairopha curcas on some of the reproductive processes on the female albino rat. The alcoholic extract of fruits of Jairopha curcas at different dose levels of 2.5, 2.0, 1.5 and 0g/kg were orally administered to female rats in three different experiments. Each of the experiments involved thirty-two (32) female rats. The first experiment determined the effect of the extract on the length of oestrous cycle, development of ova and ovulation in the albino rat. In this experiment, the rats were given their required dosages of the extract for 16 days. Vaginal smear patterns of the rats were examined during the period of the experiment. At the end of the administration period, the rats were sacrificed and the number of corpora lutea in the ovaries was counted. Histological sections were also made of the ovaries for examinations. The second experiment determined the effect of the extract on positive mating and implantation. In this experiment, the animals were given their required dosages of the extract for 5 days before they were paired with males. The number of positive mating (pregnancies) was counted and recorded. The administration of the extract continued for the pregnant rats up to the 5th day of pregnancy. At the end of the administration period, the animals were sacrificed and the number of implantation sites in the animals were counted and recorded. Histological sections were made from the uteri of the animals in the different groups for examination. The third experiment determined the effect of the extract on ova wastage or foetal loss (abortion). In this experiment, the pregnant rats were given their required dosages of the extract starting from day 6 of pregnancy up to day 16 of pregnancy. The animals were sacrificed at the end of the administration period and the number of corpora lutea, and number of normal foetuses removed were counted and recorded. The number of ova wasted was calculated. The data obtained showed that the concentrations of the alcoholic extract of fruits Jatropha curcas used, did not affect the length of oestrous cycle, the development of ova and ovulation in the albino rat. This is because the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal hormone secretions, on which the above processes depend, were not affected by the extract. The extract did not also affect positive mating, in the rat. The extract had a significant reduction effect on implantation and also caused foetal loss (abortion) in the rats. It probably interfered with uterine contraction and mitosis in the developing foetuses. There was also loss of weight in the female rats, which were given the extract. The fruits of Jatropha curcas used therefore showed to be abortifacient in albino rats.
A thesis presented to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Master of Science (Reproductive Biology) Degree, 2000