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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 108-111

Maternal prolactin level and body weight of offspring following administration of ethanolic fruit extract of date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) during lactation


1 Department of Human Physiology, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nnewi Campus, Anambra State, Nigeria
2 Department of Anatomy, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Abia State University, Uturu, Nigeria

Date of Submission20-Jul-2020
Date of Decision26-Aug-2020
Date of Acceptance01-Sep-2020
Date of Web Publication11-Feb-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. N N Njoku-Oji
Department of Human Physiology, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nnewi Campus, Anambra State
Nigeria
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/njecp.njecp_29_20

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  Abstract 


Objective: This research was carried out to evaluate the maternal prolactin (PRL) level and body weight of offspring of rats administered ethanolic fruit extract of Phoenix dactylifera during lactation. Materials and Methods: A total of twenty female Wistar rats weighing between 150 and 200 g were used. They were distributed randomly to four groups of five rats each. The groups were labeled A–D. Group A served as the control group and received distilled water only, whereas Groups B–D received 200, 400, and 600 mg/kg body weight of the extract, respectively, for 21 days through oral route. On day 22, blood samples were collected from the animals through cardiac puncture under anesthesia, and the serum PRL level was determined. The weights of the litters were determined with an electronic weighing balance, at birth and at 7-day interval for 21 days. Results: No statistically significant change (P 0.05) in serum PRL level and body weight of the offspring was observed in Group B when compared with that of the control. However, test Groups C and D showed a statistically significant increase (P < 0.05) in maternal serum PRL levels as well as body weight of the offspring when compared with that of the control. Conclusion: This study has shown that fruit extract of P. dactylifera L. increased PRL secretion as well as growth and development of the offspring.

Keywords: Body weight, lactation, maternal prolactin, offspring, Phoenix dactylifera


How to cite this article:
Njoku-Oji N N, Udemezue T S, Ifegwu N O. Maternal prolactin level and body weight of offspring following administration of ethanolic fruit extract of date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) during lactation. Niger J Exp Clin Biosci 2020;8:108-11

How to cite this URL:
Njoku-Oji N N, Udemezue T S, Ifegwu N O. Maternal prolactin level and body weight of offspring following administration of ethanolic fruit extract of date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) during lactation. Niger J Exp Clin Biosci [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Feb 28];8:108-11. Available from: https://www.njecbonline.org/text.asp?2020/8/2/108/309168




  Introduction Top


Breastfeeding is the closest thing the world has to a magic bullet for child survival as it has the potential to prevent more than 800,000 deaths in children under age 5 and 200,000 deaths in women yearly.[1] Breast milk production is a complex physiological process involving physical and emotional factors and interaction of multiple hormones, of which the most important is believed to be the hormone called prolactin (PRL).[2] PRL, also known as luteotropic hormone or luteotropin, is a polypeptide hormone synthesized and secreted from the lactotroph cells of the anterior pituitary gland of mammals. The most well-known physiological role of PRL is to support lactation by helping in the development of mammary glands, synthesis of milk, and maintenance of milk secretion postpartum.[3] Furthermore, this protein hormone has a regulatory control on reproduction, immunomodulation, angiogenesis, energy metabolism, osmotic balance, and development.[4] Very low exclusive breastfeeding rate has persisted among mothers in Nigeria, with the national rate at 25% in 2014.[5] Hormonal changes together with a host of other social factors have been attributed to the major factors, leading to these low national breastfeeding rates.

In Africa, hundreds of plants are used traditionally for the management and/or for enhancing lactation in cases of poor let-down or maternal mortality. Conventionally, the interest in induced lactation was motivated to provide nourishment for an infant whose mother either had died in childbirth or was unable to breastfeed. Unfortunately, only a few of such African medicinal plants have received scientific scrutiny.

Phoenix dactylifera belongs to the Arecaceae family and is commonly known as date palm. It grows in many parts of the world. The fruit is oval in shape, is sweet, and contains a single seed. In Nigeria, this fruit is commonly referred to as “dabino.” Dates are an important nutritional source for many countries of the world because it contains different nutrients such as carbohydrates comprising 70%–80% in the form of glucose and fructose, vitamins, and minerals.[6] Phytochemical constituents such as alkaloids, anthraquinone, cardiac glycosides, flavonoids, saponins, and tannins have been identified in the ethanolic fruit extract of P. dactylifera.[7]

Numerous beneficial health effects have long been associated with date fruit, including antioxidant, antimutagenic, and anti-inflammatory activities and protection of the gastric mucosa against the damaging effects of stomach acid.[8] Hepatoprotective activity has also been linked to date fruit, including reduced alkaline phosphatase levels. The Hausa-speaking part of Nigeria use the date palm fruit as a detersive and astringent in intestinal troubles; treatment for sore throat and colds; to relieve fever, cystitis, gonorrhea, edema, and liver and abdominal troubles; and to counteract alcohol intoxication.[9]

In Nigeria, pregnant and lactating women have been observed consuming date fruit, and anecdotal reports from them suggest that they consume the fruit because of the folkloric belief that it has lactogenic properties. This, therefore, has prompted this research work as there seems to be paucity of scientific proof supporting this claim.


  Materials and Methods Top


Plant collection and extract preparation

Fresh P. dactylifera fruit was purchased from Nkwo Nnewi market in Nnewi, Anambra state. The fruit was deseeded, sun-dried, and pulverized to powder using a laboratory blender. The powder was macerated in 70% ethanol with occasional shaking for 2 days, thereafter filtered. The filtrate was concentrated using a rotary evaporator, and the extract was redissolved in normal saline for the experiment.[10]

Experimental animals and extract administration

Twenty matured virgin female rats weighing between 150 and 200 g were used for this study. The rats were housed in well-ventilated cages and acclimatized for 2 weeks in the animal house of the Department of Human Physiology, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nnewi Campus, under controlled environmental conditions. The animals were provided standard rat pellet feed and tap water ad libitum. All procedures used in this study conformed to the guiding principles for research involving animals as recommended by the Declaration of Helsinki and the Guiding principles in the Care and Use of Animals.[11]

Induction of pregnancy and experimental design

The vaginal smear of each rat was observed daily under a light microscope to monitor their estrus cycle. When the estrus cycle was determined, mature male rats were introduced into their cages at proestrus for mating to take place. This was proved successful with the presence of spermatozoa in the vaginal smear of the female rats and hence regarded as day 1 of pregnancy.[12],[13]

On confirmation of pregnancy, the animals were randomly assigned to four groups of five rats each. The groups were designated Groups A–D. The offspring were weighed at delivery and their weight was recorded. Group A served as the control group and received distilled water only. Groups B-D were the test groups and received 200, 400, and 600 mg/kg of the extract, respectively, during lactation for 21 days.

Sample collection and estimation of serum prolactin level

At the end of extract administration, the animals were starved overnight. Blood samples were collected from the animals under anesthesia through cardiac puncture, dispensed into clean plain samples, and allowed to clot for about 15 min and centrifuged at 4000 rpm for 10 min. Serum was separated from the clot with Pasteur pipette and dispensed into a clean tube for the measurement of the serum PRL level. Analysis of PRL levels was done using ELISA kit.[14]

Measurement of body weight

The body weight of the litters was determined using an electronic weighing balance. This was taken on the day of delivery (day 0) and continued at 7-day interval for 21 days.

Statistical analysis

All data were tabulated and statistically analyzed using? SPSS software version 20.0 (IBM SPSS statistics for version 20.0 Armonk, New York, United States). The results were expressed as mean standard error of mean. Comparative analysis among groups was done using one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA). A post ad hoc analysis using Bonferroni multiple comparative test was performed to identify significant groups, and P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.


  Results Top


Effect of ethanolic fruit extract of Phoenix dactylifera on maternal prolactin level during lactation

No statistically significant difference (P 0.05) in maternal serum PRL level was observed in Group B (14.76 ± 0.39) when compared with control (13.16 ± 0.27) [Figure 1]. However, test Groups C (17.18 ± 0.47) and D (18.71 ± 0.37) showed a statistically significant increase (P < 0.05) in maternal serum PRL levels when compared with that of control (13.16 ± 0.27) [Figure 1].
Figure 1: The effect of Ethanolic Fruit Extract of Phoenixdactylifera on serum prolactin level in lactating rats. *(P<0.05) is considered statistically significant

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Effect of maternal consumption of ethanolic fruit extract of Phoenix dactylifera during lactation on body weight of offspring

No statistically significant difference (P 0.05) in body weight of the offspring was observed in Group B when compared with that of the control. There was a statistically significant increase (P < 0.05) in body weight in Groups C and D when compared with that of the control [Figure 2].
Figure 2: The effect of Ethanolic fruit Extract of Phoenix dactylifera on body weight of litters of Lactating wistar rats. *(P<0.05) is considered statistically significant

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  Discussion Top


The result of this study revealed that the ethanolic extract of P. dactylifera increased the serum PRL level during lactation in female rats. This is in accordance with an earlier report by Ebrahimi et al.,[15] who observed a significant increase in PRL levels upon administration of a homogenized date fruit and seed extract in lactating female rats.

The lactogenic effect observed in this fruit extract may be attributed to some of the phytochemical constituents of this plant, which are flavonoids, saponins, tannins, and alkaloids. These constituents found in another plant extract have been reported to possess lactogenic effect.[16] This could also be as a result of the ability of the extract to increase the estrogen level. A study done by Al-Sayyed et al.[17] revealed an increase in 17-β estradiol when administered in rats induced with mammary cancer. Estrogen is another key regulator of PRL and has been shown to increase the production and secretion of PRL from the pituitary gland. In addition, phytochemistry of date fruit confirms the presence of steroidal alcohols such as campesterol, stigmasterol, β-sitosterol, and isofucosterol.[18] These are production precursors of estrogen.[19] The above mechanism may be responsible for the increase in the PRL level observed in this study.

A recent study by Razack et al.[20] has reported a direct relationship between maternal diet and anthropometric measures of their infants. The increase in body weight of the litters of the lactating dams receiving the extract may be due to the phytochemical constituents of the fruit – anthocyanins, flavonoids, and tannins. The anthocyanins found in the date fruit have been found to significantly increase adiponectin levels.[21] Adiponectin is the appetite hormone present in the highest concentrations in human milk and is more than forty times higher than that of leptin, another appetite hormone present in human milk.[22] Among its various functions, adiponectin regulates lipid and glucose metabolism, stimulates food intake, participates in energy balance, and has anti-inflammatory effects.[23],[24] Adiponectin is present in maternal milk and can be passed through milk to the offspring.[25] The hormone acts centrally on the hypothalamus to modulate food intake.[26] This is in accordance with a report by Brunner et al.,[26] which suggests that higher adiponectin levels in breast milk might be associated with greater weight gain and higher fat mass in the offspring up to 2 years.


  Conclusion Top


This study has shown that ethanolic fruit extract of P. dactylifera increased PRL secretion as well as growth and development of the offspring. This, therefore, justifies the use of date fruit by lactating females for its lactogenic properties.

Acknowledgment

We wish to thank the Physiology Department, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nnewi Campus, for the support and assistance provided during the entire study.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

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Ebrahimi S, Hemmati M, Malekaneh M. Effects of the date palm fruit (Phoenix dactylifera L.) on prolactin, IGF-1, and stress factors in lactating female rats and its impact on their litter's development. Mediterranean J Nutr Metab 20017;10:1-8.  Back to cited text no. 15
    
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Gaya I, Mohammed O, Suleiman A, Maje M, Adekunle A. Toxicological and lactogenic studies on the seeds of Hibiscus sabdariffa linn (Malvaceae) extract on serum prolactin levels of albino wistar rats. Int J Endocrinol 2008;5:1-6.  Back to cited text no. 16
    
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Al-sayyed HF, Takruri HR, Shomuf MS, Al-Saleh A. The effect of date palm (Phoeniz dactylifera. L) on the hormone 17-β estradiol in 7, 12-dimethylbenz(α) anthracene-induced mammary cancer in rats. Mediterranean J Nut Metab 2014;7:5-10.  Back to cited text no. 17
    
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Kikuchi N, Miki T. The separation of date (Phoenix dactylifera) sterols by liquid chromatography. Microchim Acta 1978;69:89-96.  Back to cited text no. 18
    
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Nemes A, Homoki JR, Kiss R, Hegedus C, Kovács D, Peitl B, et al. Effect of anthocyanin-rich tart cherry extract on inflammatory mediators and adipokines involved in type 2 diabetes in a high Fat diet induced obesity mouse model. Nutrients 2019;11:doi:10.3390/nu11091966.  Back to cited text no. 21
    
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Nigro E, Scudiero O, Monaco ML, Palmieri A, Mazzarella G, Costagliola C, et al. New insight into adiponectin role in obesity and obesity-related diseases. Biomed Res Int 2014;2014:1-4.  Back to cited text no. 23
    
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