A REVIEW ON ABRUS PRECATORIUS

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ABOUT AUTHORS:
Mahaveer Kabra*, Sanjay Bhandari, Natasha Sharma Raman Gupta.
Department of Pharmacology,
Kota College of Pharmacy, Kota. Raj.
*sanskarkabra@gmail.com

ABSTRACT:
Abrus precatorius
Linn (Fabaceae) Plant found all throughout the plains of India, from Himalaya down to Southern India and Ceylon. It is used medicinally in various country. The roots, leaves and seeds of the plant are used medicinally. Glycyrrhizin, Triterpene glycosides, pinitol and alkaloids such as abrine, hepaphotine, choline and precatorine are the principle chemical constituents of the plants. Traditionally leaves are used as aphrodisiac, tonic, remove biliousness, useful in eye diseases, cures leucoderma, itching, skin diseases and wounds. The root is considered emetic and alexiteric. Internally, the seeds are described as poisonous and useful in affections of the nervous system and externally used in skin diseases, ulcers and affections of the hair. Antifertility, Antithrombin, Aanthelmintic Activity, Antimalarial are some reported activity of Abrus precatorius Linn.


REFERENCE ID: PHARMATUTOR-ART-1803

INTRODUCTION:

Plant Profile:

Plant Taxonomy:
Botanical name: Abrus precatorius Linn.
Synonym: Jequirity, Gunja
Family: Fabaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Order: Fabales
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Abreae
Genus: Abrus
Species: Abrus precatorius

Synonyms and Regional Names: (1, 2)
Sanskrit: Gunja
English : Jequirity
Marathi: Gunja
Hindi: Gunchi, Gunja
Gujarati: Gumchi
Telugu: Guruginia
Punjabi: Mulati
Urdu: Ghunchi
Cannad: Gurugunji


Figure 1: Abrus precatorius Linn. (3)


Botanical Description: A creeper with many branches. Leaves resemble tamarind leaves having 20-40 leaflets. Flowers are pink, bluish and appear in cluster. Legumes are 1.5- 3.5 cm long containing red, white and black colored seeds. Red colored seeds have black spot on their tips. Roots and leaves are sweet like that of G. Glabra (4).

Habitat: It is used medically in china, Indo china, Islands, West Indies, Guina, Brazil, udan, South Africa, Madascar and India. Plant found all throughout the plains of India, from Himalaya down to Southern India and Ceylon (1, 2).
Phenology :
Flowers in winter; fruits ripen in summer (2).
Propogation
: by seeds (2).
Parts Used:
The roots, leaves and seeds of the plant are used medicinally (1, 5).

Chemical Constituents:
i. Leaves:
The leaves which are sweet in taste contain up to 10% Glycyrrhizin, triterpene glycosides, pinitol and alkaloids such as abrine, hepaphotine, choline and precatorine. The triterpene glycosides are abusosides A, B, and C, (which are highly sweet) and tree glycosides based on cycloartane-type aglycone, abrutigenin. Other compounds of the leaves are tritepenes abrusgenic acid, abruslactone A and methyl abrusgenate and flavonoids vitexin, liquirtiginin-7-mono- and diglycosides and toxifolin-3-glucosides (5).

ii. Root: Root contains glycyrrhizin and alkaloids like abrasine and precasine besides abrine and related bases (5).

iii. Seeds: Seed analysis shows presence of moisture (5.06 %), fat (3.92 %), and crude protein (39.20 %), crude fibre     (9.08 %), carbohydrates (42.42 %) and ash (5.38 %). The seeds yield alkaloids, a fixed oil, steroids, lectine, flavonoids, and anthocyanins (6).

The alkaloids of the seeds are abrine, hpaphotine, choline and precatorine. The oil content of seed is only 2.5 %, which is rich in oleic acid and linoleic acids. β-sitosterol, stigmasterol, 5β-cholanic acid,abricin, and cholesterol are the steroids present. The colour of the seed is due to glycosides of abranin, pelargonidin, cyaniding, and delphinidin. A sapogenol, abrisapogenol J, sophoradiol, its 22-O-acetate, hederagenin methyl ether, kaikasaponin III methyl ester, flavones suych as abrectorin and aknone are the other constituents of the seeds. Lectines are the chief constituents of the seeds, the principal ones being abrin. Lectins are both toxic (abrin) and non toxic (abrus agglutinin). Abrins are denoted by abrin a, b, c and d and consist of one large β-polypeptide chain (MW. 35,000) and short α- polypeptide chain joined by disulphide bond (5).

Traditional Uses:

i. Leaves:
Leaves are used as aphrodisiac, tonic, remove biliousness, useful in eye diseases, cures leucoderma, itching, skin diseases and wounds. In addition they also cure fevers, stomatitis, head complaints, asthma, thirst, tuberculous glands and caries of teeth. When leaves are steeped in warm mustered oil and applied over the site of pain in rheumatism much benefit will be derived. The juice of the fresh leaves, mixed with some bland oil, applied externally, seems to relieve local pain (2). Powdered leaves mix with sugar given in case of leucoderma and menorrhagia (6).The leaves also used as diuretic, diarhhoea, gastritis, heart diseases, kidney diseases, insomnia, cancer and CNS (7).

A cross-sectional study performed in Temeke District (Dares Salaam, Tanzania) showed that 5.5 % of the traditional healers have knowledge for the treatment of epilepsy. Since among these healers, 110 were reported to treat epilepsy, a convenience sample of 100 healers was interviewed using a structured questionnaire. A prior informed consent for each interview was secured. All the interviewed healers were required to narrate the symptoms that an epileptic patient would have. They were also asked to indicate the plants they use for treatment, parts used, and methods of preparation and frequency of administration. The leaves were boiled with water and given orally as three table spoonfuls in twice daily dosage regimen. Information from the literature shows that Abrus precatorius L. can be used by people for the treatment of epilepsy (8).

ii. Root: 
The root is considered emetic and alexiteric. The watery extract is useful in relieving obstinate coughs. The roots employed as a substitute for liquorices. Roots are taken for sore throat and rheumatism (2). The root also used as diuretic, diarhhoea, gastritis, heart diseases, kidney diseases, insomnia, cancer and CNS (7). The roots are also usefulness in gonorrhoea and jaundice and other infections (5).

iii. Seeds:
Internally, the seeds are described as poisonous and useful in affections of the nervous system and externally used in skin diseases, ulcers and affections of the hair. The seeds reduced to a paste are recommended to be applied locally in sciatica, stiffness of the shoulder joint, paralysis and other nervous diseases. In white leprosy, a paste composed of the seed and plumbago root is applied as stimulant dressing. In alopecia a paste of the seed is recommended to be rubbed on the bare scale. The seeds are used as purgative, but in large doses are acrid poison, given rise to symptoms resembling those of cholera. Taken internally by women, the seed disturbs the uterine functions and prevents conception. Reduced to a paste they are used for contusion and inflammation (2). The root also used as diuretic, diarhhoea, gastritis, heart diseases, kidney diseases, insomnia, cancer and CNS (7).

Reported Activities of Abrus precatorius L.

i. Neuromuscular Effects:
Some neuromuscular effects of the crude extracts of the leaves of Abrus precatorius were investigated using isolated toad rectus abdominals and rat phrenic nerve-diaphragm muscle preparations as well as young chicks. The ethanol extract of the leaves inhibited acetylcholine-induced contractions of both toad rectus abdominis and rat phrenic nerve-diaphragm muscle preparations. The effects were concentration-dependent and reversible. The extract also caused flaccid paralysis when injected intravenously into young chicks. The ethanol extract had no effect on direct electrical stimulation of rat diaphragm. The inhibitory effect of the ethanol extract on the rat phrenic nerve-diaphragm preparation was potentiated in the presence of reduced calcium ions, elevated magnesium ions, or reduced potassium ions. Thus, the ethanol extract showed a similarity to d-tubocurarine in respect of the pattern of neuromuscular blockade. Both the petroleum ether and the water (cold and hot) extracts had no observable effects on the skeletal muscles used in this project. Apparently, the poisonous neuronal component of the leaves of Abrus precatorius resides mainly in the ethanol extract (9).

ii. Dalton’s Lymphoma:
It has been reported that abrus abrin, isolated from the seeds of Abrus precatorius, showed in vitro and in vivo antitumor properties by the induction of apoptosis. The present study was designed to evaluate the in vivo therapeutic effectiveness of abrin-derivedpeptide (ABP) fraction in Dalton’s lymphoma (DL) mice model. The lethal dose (LD50) of ABP was found to be 2.25 mg/kg body weight and further the acute toxicity was determined with sublethal doses in normal mice. (10).

iii. Alzheimer’s Disease:
Abrus precatorius
L. lectinhave been used to identify glycohistochemically the microglial cells (MGC) activation in autoptic brain samples from Alzheimer’s disease subject. Abrus precatorius agglutinin recognizes MGC in the cerebral white matter from all AD patients studied. These MGC are of rod-like types and appear to be particularly dense in those areas proximal to an oligodendroglial cell. The identification of new markers for the study of MGC is very important to better understand the role of these types of cells in the metabolic/ dismetabolic control of bA4 in AD which still represents a vexata questio (11).

iv.  Antimalarial:
An isoflavaquinone- abruquinone was isolated from the extract of aerial parts and exhibited antimalarial activity. Antiplasmodial activity and cytotoxicity in the assessment of antimalarial activity was further done (12). The antiplasmodial activity was evaluated by the radioactive micromethod while cytotoxicity was estimated on melanoma cell (A375). Extract testing was performed at three different times in triplicate in 96-well culture plates with cultures mostly at ring stages at 0.5-1 % parasitemia. Abrus precatorius pentane extract presented an IC50 value below 20 g/ml (12).

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