Early post implantation contraceptive effects of a purified fraction of neem (Azadirachta indica) seeds, given orally in rats: possible mechanisms involved

J Ethnopharmacol. 1999 Nov 30;67(3):287-96. doi: 10.1016/s0378-8741(99)00068-9.


Neem seed and leaf extracts have immunomodulators that induce cellular immune reactions. These aspects of neem were exploited in earlier studies, where the oral administration of the neem seed extracts in rodents and primates could completely abrogate pregnancy at an early post implantation stage. Complete restoration of fertility was observed in the animals treated in the subsequent cycles. For the purpose of using neem as a long term contraceptive, an activity guided fractionation, followed by identification and characterization of the biologically active fraction from neem seeds was carried out. Sequentially extracted fractions of neem seeds were tested orally at an early post implantation stage in rats. The hexane extract of the neem seeds was found to be biologically active and was the precursor for the final active fraction. The active fraction, identified as a mixture of six components, could completely abrogate pregnancy in rodents up to a concentration of 10%. No apparent toxic effects could be seen following treatment with the fraction. The treatment with the active fraction caused a specific activation of T lymphocyte cells of CD8+ subtype as well as phagocytic cells followed by elevation in cytokines gamma-interferon and TNF. The results of the present study show that a pure active fraction of neem seeds could be obtained for the purpose of early post implantation contraception when given orally, and its mechanism of action seems to be by activating cell mediated immune reactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abortifacient Agents / administration & dosage
  • Abortifacient Agents / pharmacology*
  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Embryonic Development / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Lymph Nodes / cytology
  • Lymph Nodes / drug effects
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Seeds / chemistry
  • Spleen / cytology
  • Spleen / drug effects


  • Abortifacient Agents
  • Plant Extracts