Treatment of lead-poisoned rats through oral administration of palm oil extracts

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The palm fruit (Elaies guineensis) is the source of palmitic-oleic rich semi solid fat and fat-soluble minor components, made up of vitamin E (tocopherols and tocotrienols), carotenoids and phytosterols. This study was in two parts. Firstly, it examined the effects of palm oil fractionation methods on recovery and concentration of carotenes, tocopherols and tocotrienols which are known to have nutritional and medicinal properties, including antioxidant activities. Secondly, the study also investigated lead (Pb) poisoning effects on blood, liver and kidney functions of albino rats and the efficacy of treatment of the poisoning with crude palm oil and its various extracts. The palm fruits used were of the Tenera variety, obtained from Goaso in the Brong Ahafo Region. The crude palm oil contained 530 ppm carotenes, 1,040 ppm tocols and 4.6 % FFA. The extraction methods employed in the study were adsorption chromatography, saponification and bleaching. Examination of the palm oil extracts revealed that the unsaponifiable fraction contained 19,570 ppm carotene, 39,290 ppm Vitamin E (tocols) and 2.7% free fatty acids (FFA). The adsorption chromatographic isolated fraction contained 16,310 ppm carotenes, 19,870 ppm tocols and 3.3% FFA. The bleached fraction had a reduced level of carotenes and tocols with values of 209 ppm and 640 ppm respectively. A high FFA of 13.1 % was recorded. A 40-day oral administration of 2 g/L lead acetate daily, significantly decreased red blood cell count, haemoglobin level, haematocrit value and platelet count, compared with the control. In contrast, serum urea, and creatinine were significantly increased by the lead poisoning. Serum total protein decreased significantly in the treated rats. However, ALT and AST increased significantly. Crude palm oil and palm oil extracts, except the bleached fraction (0.5 ml/kg body weight/day) administered to lead poisoned rats significantly restored the normal blood, liver and renal functions. The unsaponifiable fraction and adsorption chromatographic-isolated fractions reversed such changes to near control levels. The efficiency of these extracts in treating lead toxicity depended on their content of carotenes and tocols, which are biological antioxidants. The suggestion that oxidative stress is the mechanism of lead toxicity means that antioxidant action of palm oil and its extracts might play a role in the treatment of lead poisoning. Although orthodox medicines are widely used, natural products such as palm oil extracts hold great potential in lead poisoning treatment.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Mphil Biochemisry