COMMENTARY

Possible Role of Moringa oleifera Lam. Root in Epithelial Ovarian Cancer

Chinmoy K. Bose, MD, PhD

Disclosures

February 06, 2007

Toxicity

Different parts of the plant have different pharmacological actions and toxicity profiles, which have not yet been completely defined. However, several toxicities have been described and are worth mentioning.

The root bark contains 2 alkaloids as well as the toxic hypotensive moringinine. At lower concentrations, it produces a dose-dependent positive inotropic effect, and at higher concentrations, a dose-dependent negative inotropic effect, as was demonstrated in a study using an isolated frog heart. Niazinin A, niazimicin, and niaziminin A+B resulted from bioassay-directed fractionation of the ethanolic extract of Moringa oleifera leaves.[21] Intravenous administration (1-10 mg/kg) produced hypotensive and bradycardiac effects in anesthetized rats and negative inotropic and chronotropic effects in isolated guinea pig atria. The direct depressant action of these compounds exhibited on all of the isolated preparations tested is thought to be responsible for its hypotensive and bradycardiac effects observed in vivo.

The bark of the tree may cause violent uterine contractions that can be fatal.[22] Methanolic extract of Moringa oleifera root was found to contain 0.2% alkaloids. Effects of multiple weekly doses (35, 46, 70 mg/kg) and daily therapeutic (3.5, 4.6, and 7.0 mg/kg) intraperitoneal doses of the crude extract on liver and kidney function and hematologic parameters in mice have been studied. The results indicate that weekly moderate and high doses (> 46 mg/kg body weight) and daily/therapeutic high doses (7 mg/kg) of crude extract affect liver and kidney function and hematologic parameters, whereas a weekly dose (3.5 mg/kg) and low and moderate daily/therapeutic doses (3.5 and 4.6 mg/kg) did not produce adverse effects on liver and kidney function.[23] LD50 and lowest published toxic dose (TDLo) of root bark extract Moringa oleifera Lam. are 500 mg/kg and 184 mg/kg, respectively, when used intraperitoneally in rodents (mice). Changes in clotting factor, changes in serum composition (eg, total protein, bilirubin, cholesterol), along with enzyme inhibition, induction, or change in blood or tissue levels of other transferases have been noted.[24]

However, the interior flesh of the plant can also be dangerous if consumed too frequently or in large amounts. Even though the toxic root bark is removed, the flesh has been found to contain the alkaloid spirochin, which can cause nerve paralysis.[25]

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