Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter August 22, 2013

In vivo and in vitro estrogenic activity of extracts from Erythrina poeppigiana (Fabaceae)

  • Dieudonné Njamen EMAIL logo , Sefirin Djiogue , Stephane Zingue , Marie Alfrede Mvondo and Benedicta N. Nkeh-Chungag


In developing countries, around 80% of the population still resorts on traditional medicine for their primary health care. Erythrina poeppigiana (Walp.) O.F. Cook, one of these medicinal plants, was found to be particularly rich in isoflavonoids which exhibited, individually, significant estrogenic activity in vitro. The possible combined effects of these bioactive isoflavones, as they are naturally found in the crude extracts of E. poeppigiana, prompted us to assess their in vivo estrogenicity. We first tested the ability of the extracts to transactivate estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) in vitro using U2OS human osteosarcoma cells. We next investigated their effects in vivo in an uterotrophic assay, using ovariectomized rats treated with the extracts at the doses of 50, 100, 200, and 400 mg/kg BW/d orally for 3 days. Finally, we assessed their ability to relieve hot flushes, using data loggers. At the end of treatments, animals were sacrificed, and organs (mammary glands, vagina, and uteri) were collected for histo-morphometric analyses. The methanol extract significantly and dose-dependently transactivated ERα at all tested doses. All extracts induced significant increases of vaginal and uterine epithelial heights. Only the dichloromethane extract could significantly relieve hot flushes as estradiol. These results indicate that E. poeppigiana extracts have estrogen-like effects in vivo, suggesting that its active principles act in synergy when they are taken in combination in the crude extract. These findings, therefore, support the traditional use of E. poeppigiana to alleviate some menopausal problems; our previous phytochemical investigations contribute to the standardization of this phytomedicine.


Special thanks to the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for material support. The authors are really thankful to Prof. Dr. Günter Vollmer (TU Dresden) and Prof. Leandros Skaltsounis (U. Athens) for their multiform collaboration.


1. DeecherDC, and DorriesK. Review Understanding the pathophysiology of vasomotor symptoms (hot flushes and night sweats) that occur in perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause life stages. Arch Womens Ment Health2007;10:24757.10.1007/s00737-007-0209-5Search in Google Scholar

2. DennersteinL. Well-being, symptoms and the menopausal transition. Maturitas1996;23:14757.10.1016/0378-5122(95)00970-1Search in Google Scholar

3. NagamaniM, KelverME, and SmithER. Treatment of menopausal hot flashes with transdermal administration of clonidine. Am J Obstet Gynecol1987;156:5615.10.1016/0002-9378(87)90050-0Search in Google Scholar

4. BirgeSJ. Is there a role for estrogen replacement therapy in the prevention and treatment of dementia?J Am Geriatr Soc1996;44:86570 (see accompanying comment).10.1111/j.1532-5415.1996.tb03749.xSearch in Google Scholar

5. KronenbergF. Hot flashes: epidemiology and physiology. Ann N Y Acad Sci1990;592:5286 (see discussion on p 123–33).10.1111/j.1749-6632.1990.tb30316.xSearch in Google Scholar

6. BurgerH. Hormone replacement therapy in the post-Women’s Health Initiative era. Report of a meeting held in Funchal, Madeira. Climacteric2003;6:1136.Search in Google Scholar

7. BeralV. Breast cancer and hormone-replacement therapy in the Million Women Study. Lancet2003;362:41927.10.1016/S0140-6736(03)14065-2Search in Google Scholar

8. RossouwJE, AndersonGL, PrenticeRL, LaCroixAZ, KooperbergC, StefanickML, et al. Risks and benefits of estrogen plus progestin in healthy postmenopausal women: principal results from the Women’s Health Initiative randomized controlled trial. JAMA2002;288:32133.10.1001/jama.288.3.321Search in Google Scholar PubMed

9. Muller-SchwarzeD. Dietland: chemical ecology of vertebrates. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006, 287.Search in Google Scholar

10. KrukoffBA. Notes on the species of Erythrina—XIX. Phytologia1982;51:44057.10.5962/bhl.part.13625Search in Google Scholar

11. HegdeGR, HegdeSD, KholkuteHV. Herbal care for reproductive health: ethno medicobotany from Uttara Kannada district in Karnataka, India. Complem Ther Clin Pract2007;13:3845.10.1016/j.ctcp.2006.09.002Search in Google Scholar PubMed

12. DjiogueS, HalabalakiM, AlexiX, NjamenD, Tanee FomunZ, AlexisMN, SkaltsounisAL. Isoflavonoids from Erythrina poeppigiana. Evaluation of their binding affinity for the estrogen receptor. J Nat Prod2009;72:1603–07.10.1021/np900271mSearch in Google Scholar PubMed

13. DjiogueS, NjamenD, HalabalakiM, KretzschmarG, BeyerA, MbanyaJC, SkaltsounisAL, VollmerG. Estrogenic properties of naturally occurring prenylated isoflavones in U2OS human osteosarcoma cells: structure-activity relationship. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol2010;120:18491.10.1016/j.jsbmb.2010.04.014Search in Google Scholar PubMed

14. OECD. Third meeting of the validation management group for the screening and testing of endocrine disrupters (mammalian effects). Joint meeting of the chemicals committee and the working party on chemical, pesticides and biotechnology, 2007. Available at: http://www.oecd.orgSearch in Google Scholar

15. MöllerF, ZierauO, JandauschA, RettenbergerR, Kaszkin-BettagM, and VollmerG. Subtype-specific activation of estrogen receptors by a special extract of Rheum rhaponticum (ERr 731), its aglycones and structurally related compounds in U2OS human osteosarcoma cells. Phytomedicine2007;14:71626.10.1016/j.phymed.2007.09.001Search in Google Scholar PubMed

16. Magne NdeCB, NjamenD, Tanee FomumS, WandjiJ, SimpsonE, ClyneC, VollmerG. In vitro estrogenic activity of two major compounds from the stem bark of Erythrina lysistemon (Fabaceae). Eur J Pharmacol2012;674:8794.10.1016/j.ejphar.2011.10.031Search in Google Scholar PubMed

17. FortierJF, HouldR. Histotechnologie: théorie et procédés. CCDMD edition, 2003.Search in Google Scholar

18. WestwoodFR. The female rat reproductive cycle: a practical histological guide to staging. Toxicol Pathol2008;36:37584.10.1177/0192623308315665Search in Google Scholar PubMed

19. KulkarniTR, MateenuddinM, SahasrabudheRA, PanditVA. Estrohenic activity of alcoholic extract of lemon seeds. IJRPBS 2012;3:12311235.Search in Google Scholar

20. MindySK, XuX. Dietary phytoestrogens. Ann Rev Nutr1997;17:35381.10.1146/annurev.nutr.17.1.353Search in Google Scholar PubMed

21. MvondoMA, NjamenD, Tanee FomumS, WandjiJ. Effects of alpinumisoflavone and ABYSSINONEV-4′-methyl ether derived from Erythrina lysistemon (Fabaceae) on the genital tract of ovariectomized female Wistar rat. Phytother Res2012;26:102936.10.1002/ptr.3685Search in Google Scholar PubMed

22. KetchaWJ, NjamenD, YankepE, FotsingMT, FomunZT, WoberJ, et al. Estrogenic properties of isoflavones derived from Millettia griffoniana. Phytomedicine2006;13:13945.10.1016/j.phymed.2005.06.003Search in Google Scholar PubMed

23. ItoK. Hormone replacement therapy and cancers: the biological roles of estrogen and progestin in tumor genesis are different between the endometrium and breast. Tohoku J Exp Med2007;212:112.10.1620/tjem.212.1Search in Google Scholar PubMed

24. DielP, GeisRB, CaldarelliA, SchmidtS, LeschowskyUL, VossA,VollmerG. The differential ability of the phytoestrogen genistein and of estradiol to induce uterine weight and proliferation in the rat is associated with a substance specific modulation of uterine gene expression. Mol Cell Endocrinol2004;221:2132.10.1016/j.mce.2004.04.006Search in Google Scholar PubMed

25. Padilla-BanksE, JeffersonWN, NewboldRR. The immature mouse is a suitable model for detection of oestrogenicity in the uterotrophic bioassay. Environ Health Perspect2001;109:8216.10.1289/ehp.01109821Search in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

26. HewittSC, DerooBJ, HansenK, et al. Estrogen receptor-dependent genomic responses in the uterus mirror the biphasic physiological response to estrogen. Mol Endocrinol2003;17:207083.10.1210/me.2003-0146Search in Google Scholar

27. KuiperGG, CarlssonB, GrandienK. Comparison of the ligand binding specificity and transcript tissue distribution of estrogen receptors alpha and beta. Endocrinology1997;138:86370.10.1210/endo.138.3.4979Search in Google Scholar

28. AndersonWF, ChuKC, ChatterjeeN, BrawleyO, BrintonA. Tumor variants by hormone receptor expression in white patients with node-negative breast cancer breast cancer from the surveillance, epidemiology and end results database. J Cin Oncol. 2001;19:1827.10.1200/JCO.2001.19.1.18Search in Google Scholar

29. JeffersonWN, Padilla-BanksE, ClarkG, NewboldRR. Assessing oestrogenic activity of phytochemicals using transcriptional activation and immature mouse uterotrophic responses. J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci2002;777:17989.10.1016/S1570-0232(02)00493-2Search in Google Scholar

30. WuttkeW, JarryH, Seidlová-WuttkeD. Isoflavones-safe food additives or dangerous drugs?Ageing Res Rev2007;6:15088.10.1016/j.arr.2007.05.001Search in Google Scholar PubMed

31. PaechK, WebbP, KuiperGG, NilssonS, GustafssonI, KushnerPI, ScalanTS. Differential ligand activation of oestrogen receptors ERalpha and ERbeta at AP1 sites. Science1997;277:150810.10.1126/science.277.5331.1508Search in Google Scholar PubMed

32. SantellRC, ChangYC, NairMG, HelferichWG. Dietary genistein exerts estrogenic effects upon the uterus, mammary gland and the hypothalamic pituitary axis in rats. J Nutr1997;127:2639.10.1093/jn/127.2.263Search in Google Scholar PubMed

33. BerendsenHH, KloosterboerHJ. Estradiol and mirtazapine restore the disturbed tail temperature of oestrogen-deficient rats. J Pharmacol2003;482:32933.10.1016/j.ejphar.2003.09.061Search in Google Scholar PubMed

34. MerchenthalerI. The effect of estrogens and antiestrogens in rat models of hot flush. Drug Dev Res2006;66:1828.10.1002/ddr.20057Search in Google Scholar

35. WashbunS, BurkeGL, MorganT, AntonyM. Effect of soy protein supplementation on serum lipoproteins, blood pressure, and menopausal symptoms in perimenopausal women. Menopause1999;6:713.10.1097/00042192-199906010-00004Search in Google Scholar

36. World Health Organization. Traditional medicine. Fact sheet 134. 2003-5. Archived from the original on 2008-07-28, 2008.Search in Google Scholar

  1. A special thought to the memory of Professor Zacharias Tanee Fomum.

Published Online: 2013-08-22

©2013 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin / Boston

Downloaded on 21.2.2024 from
Scroll to top button