Proceedings of The Physiological Society

Physiology 2014 (London, UK) (2014) Proc Physiol Soc 31, PCA164

Poster Communications

Quinolizidine alkaloids: the bioactive principles in Cnestis ferruginea (de Candolle) with male anti-fertility activities

F. O. Olayemi1, Y. Raji2

1. Department of Veterinary Physiology, Biochemistry and Pharmacology, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo, Nigeria. 2. Department of Physiology, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo, Nigeria.


Cnestis ferruginea (Connaraceae) is a shrub used locally as antibacteria and antimalaria agent in the southern part of Nigeria. Many antimalaria medicinal plants have effects on the reproductive system. This study was carried out to evaluate the reproductive effects of the purified fractions from the root of the plant in male rats. Column chromatography produced 20 fractions which were reduced to 6 by thin layer chromatography. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy revealed quinolizidine alkaloids as the bioactive principle. Each of the six chromatographic fractions (1-6) from the extract was administered orally (100, 1000 and 2000µgkg-1bw for 60 days) to rats. Effects of the purified fractions were assessed by sperm function analyses. The reproductive effects of purified fractions were compared with those of quinine sulphate. Plasma testosterone, luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) concentrations were determined to elucidate the probable mechanism of action of the extract on male reproduction. Student's t-test and analysis of variance were used to test for levels of significance. Each of the six chromatographic fractions (1-6) caused significant reduction (P<0.05) in the sperm counts, motility, viability, morphology and testosterone values. However, fractions 3 and 4 caused the highest reduction (P<0.05) in sperm functions, testosterone, FSH and LH levels. When compared with quinine sulphate, a synthetic antimalaria drug that has been reported to have anti-fertility effect, the reproductive effects of fractions 3 and 4 of Cnestis ferruginea were similar to it. NMR spectroscopy revealed that fractions 3 and 4 contain quinolizidine alkaloids. The results suggest that Cnestis ferruginea possesses male antifertility effects which are due to quinolizidine alkaloids.

Where applicable, experiments conform with Society ethical requirements