Phytochemical constituents as well as antimalarial and toxicity potentials of the methanolic extract of the husk fibre of Dwarf Red variety of Cocos nucifera were evaluated in this study.
The dried powdered husk fibre was exhaustively extracted with hexane, ethyl acetate and methanol successively and the methanolic extract was screened for flavonoids, phenolics, tannins, alkaloids, steroids, triterpenes, phlobatannins, anthraquinones and glycosides. A 4-day suppressive antimalarial test was carried out using Plasmodium berghei NK65-infected mice, to which the extract was administered at doses of 31.25, 62.5, 125, 250 and 500 mg/kg body weight (BW). Toxicity of the extract was evaluated in rats using selected hematological parameters and organ function indices after orally administering doses of 25, 50 and 100 mg/kg BW for 14 d.
Phytochemical analysis revealed the presence of alkaloids, tannins, phenolics, saponins, glycosides, steroids and anthraquinones in the extract. Moreover, the extract reduced parasitemia by 39.2% and 45.8% at doses of 250 and 500 mg/kg BW respectively on day 8 post-inoculation. Various hematological parameters evaluated were not significantly altered (P>0.05) at all doses of the extract, except red blood cell count which was significantly elevated (P<0.05) at 100 mg/kg BW. The extract significantly increased (P<0.05) urea, creatinine, cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol and bilirubin concentrations in the serum as well as atherogenic index, while it reduced albumin concentration significantly (P<0.05) at higher doses compared to the controls. Alanine aminotransferase activity was reduced in the liver and heart significantly (P<0.05) but was increased in the serum significantly (P<0.05) at higher doses of the extract compared to the controls.
The results suggest that methanolic extract of the Dwarf red variety has partial antimalarial activity at higher doses, but is capable of impairing normal kidney and liver function as well as predisposing subjects to cardiovascular diseases.