Background: Besides the basic role to flavor and color foods, several health benefits have been attributed to spices. The traditional Cameroonian food “Nkui” is prepared using several spices (Afrostyrax lepidophyllus Mildbr., Capsicum frutescens Linn., Fagara leprieurii Guill. et Perr., Fagara tessmannii Engl., Mondia whitei Hook. F. Skell., Pentadiplandra brazzeana Baill., Solanum gilo Raddi., Tetrapleura tetraptera Taub. and Xylopia parviflora A. Rich. Benthane) that are believed to have a positive impact on the female reproductive physiology. Aiming to determine the potential effect of this food on the female reproductive tract, we evaluated the estrogenic properties of aqueous and ethanol extracts of Nkui using a 3-day uterotrophic assay in ovariectomized (OVX) rats.
Methods: OVX female Wistar rats were randomly separated in several groups of five animals each and submitted to a 3-day uterotrophic assay (per os). At the end of treatment, animals were sacrificed and uterus, vagina and mammary gland collected and fixed in 10 % formalin for histological analysis.
Results: These extracts increased the uterine wet weight, the uterine and vaginal epithelial heights, and the lumen and diameter of alveoli in the mammary glands. They also altered the estradiol-induced increase of uterine wet weight. The dichloromethane and methanol fractions of the ethanol extract exhibited estrogenic properties as well by increasing uterine and vaginal endpoints.
Conclusions: These results suggest that the spices of “Nkui” contain estrogenic phytoconstituents and this traditional food may be considered as functional.
The authors are very thankful to the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for support.
Author contributions: All the authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this submitted manuscript and approved submission.
Research funding: None declared.
Employment or leadership: None declared.
Honorarium: None declared.
Competing interests: The funding organization(s) played no role in the study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the report for publication.
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