Induction of insulin secretion by a component of Urtica dioica leave extract in perifused Islets of Langerhans and its in vivo effects in normal and streptozotocin diabetic rats

Journal of Ethnopharmacology

Volume 1 - Number

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The blood glucose lowering effect of Urtica dioica (Stinging Nettle) as a medicinal plant has been noted in old writings such as those of Avicenna. Recently, there has also been other investigators that indicated the hypoglycemic effect of Urtica dioica. But so far, the mechanism of this effect has not been deduced. In this report, a perifusion system is arranged in which an exact number of Langerhans Islets were exposed to several fractions of extracts of Urtica dioica by TLC. The active ingredient fraction named F 1, caused a marked increase in insulin secretion. A simultaneous assay of glucose showed that the increase in insulin level was associated with a decrease in glucose level. Furthermore, the active component of Urtica dioica was found to increase the insulin content of blood sera in normal and streptozotocin diabetic rats that were injected intraperitoneally (i.p.) with the active ingredient of the extract. The in vivo studies presented in this report show that not only an increase in insulin level of blood sera was observed in rats after 30min from the initial point of injection but a simultaneous decrease of blood sugar was detected when similar sera was tested for glucose. The increase in insulin level was six times during the 120min of our determination. The decrease in blood sugar was found to be similar both in the level and time of initiation. On the basis of our findings, we assume that F1 is the active ingredient of plant leaves extract. The results show that the blood lowering effect of the extract was due to the enhancement of insulin secretion by Langerhance Isletes. © 2003 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.