Toxicological studies of aqueous extract of Acacia nilotica root

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Acacia nilotica is a widely used plant in traditional medical practice in Northern Nigeria and many African countries. The aim of this study was to determine the toxicological effects of a single dose (acute) and of repeated doses (sub-acute) administration of aqueous extract of A. nilotica root in rodents, following our earlier study on antiplasmodial activity. In the acute toxicity test, three groups of Swiss albino mice were orally administered aqueous extract of A. nilotica (50, 300 and 2000 mg/kg body weight) and signs of toxicity were observed daily for 14 days. In the sub-acute toxicity study, four groups of 12 rats (6 male and 6 female) were used. Group 1 received 10 ml/kg b.w distilled water (control), while groups 2, 3 and 4 received 125, 250 and 500 mg/kg b.w of the extract, respectively, for 28 consecutive days by oral gavage. Signs of toxicity/mortality, food and water intake and body weight changes were observed. Biochemical parameters were analysed in both plasma and liver homogenate. In the acute and sub-acute toxicity studies, the extract did not cause mortality. A significant reduction in the activity of lactate dehydrogenase was observed at 250 and 500 mg/kg b.w, while alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase and alkaline phosphatase activities were significantly higher than control values at 500 mg/kg b.w. The aqueous extract of A. nilotica was found to be safe in single dose administration in mice but repeated administration of doses higher than 250 mg/kg b.w of the extract for 28 days in rats may cause hepatotoxicity.

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