Hypoglycaemic role of Cucurbita ficifolia (Cucurbitaceae) fruit extract in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats



Cucurbita ficifolia is commonly used as an antidiabetic and antihyperglycaemic agent in Asia. However, the mechanisms of antidiabetic action of the plant remain to be clarified. This study was undertaken to investigate the effects of C. ficifolia fruit extract on blood plasma, plasma insulin level, lipid peroxidation and number of β cells in normal and streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic rats. The results indicated that feeding with C. ficifolia fruit extract caused reduction in STZ-induced hyperglycaemia while increase plasma insulin level in STZ diabetic rats, and markedly reduced the STZ-induced lipid peroxidation in pancreas of the rats. Further there was a significant increase in the number of β cells in C. ficifolia-treated animals when compared with untreated diabetics, however, their number was still less than that obtained for normal rats, indicating the mode of protection of C. ficifolia fruit extract on pancreatic β cells. The present study thus confirms a hypoglycaemic effect of C. ficifolia fruit extract and suggests that oral feeding of C. ficifolia fruit extract may have a role in the renewal of β cells in STZ diabetic rats or, alternatively, may permit the recovery of partially destroyed β cells. Our results provide some documentation to define the role and mode of action of C. ficifolia fruit extract in its potential and promising use in treating diabetes. Copyright © 2007 Society of Chemical Industry