The Claim of Anti-Cataract Potential of Heliotropium indicum: A Myth or Reality?
Heliotropium indicum has several uses in traditional medicine attributable to its numerous bioactive compounds. It is used as a traditional remedy for cataracts in Ghana without any scientific verification. This study aimed at verifying the anti-cataract properties of an aqueous whole plant extract of H. indicum.
The effect (cataract score) of 30, 100, and 300 mg kg−1 extract (bid for 21 days, per os) on the development of 30 µmol kg−1 sodium selenite-induced cataract in 10-day-old rat pups was investigated. Soluble lens proteins alpha A and alpha B crystallins, total lens protein, total lens glutathione, and aquaporin 0 in enucleated lens homogenates were determined spectrophotometrically using commercially available kits. Histopathological studies on the lenses were also performed. The 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl scavenging effect and linoleic acid autoxidation (antioxidant properties) of the extract (0.1–3.0 mg ml−1), compared to n-propyl gallate, were ascertained using standard procedures.
Cataract scores showed that the extract, at all dose levels, significantly alleviated selenite-induced cataracts (P ≤ 0.001). Markers of lens transparency (aquaporin 0, alpha A and B crystallins), as well as total lens proteins and lens glutathione levels, were significantly preserved (P ≤ 0.01–0.001). The extract exhibited activity relevant for scavenging free radicals and inhibition of lipid peroxidation. Epithelial and lens fiber integrity in the histopathological assessment were maintained with HIE treatment.
The aqueous whole plant extract of H. indicum significantly inhibited the development of cataracts in rats via multiple mechanisms.