According to Indian Systems of Medicine, Spilanthes acmella (L.) Murr. (Family - Asteraceae), is considered effective in the treatment of sexual deficiencies especially due to ageing. In the present study, characterization of ethanolic extracts of the Spilanthes acmella flower and its effect on general mating pattern, penile erection and serum hormone levels of normal male Wistar albino rats were investigated and compared with sildenafil citrate. In vitro nitric oxide release was also investigated in human corpus cavernosum cell line. As N-alkylamides are a promising group, their profiling was performed using a gradient reversed phase high performance liquid chromatography/electrospray ionization ion trap mass spectrometry (HPLC/ESI-MS) method on an embedded polar column. MS(1) and MS(2) fragmentation data were used for identification purposes. For assessment of sexual behavior, animals were divided into five groups of eight male rats. The extracts (50, 100 and 150mg/kgbodyweight/day) and sildenafil citrate (5mg/kgbodyweight/day) (positive control) were administered orally for 28 days. The behavioral and sexual parameters were observed at days 0, 15, 28 and after a lapse of 7 and 14 days of discontinuance of drug treatment. Five N-isobutylamides, one 2-methylbutylamide and one 2-phenylethylamide were identified. The orally administered extract had a dose dependent positive effect on mounting frequency, intromission frequency and ejaculation frequency and the most significant effects (p<0.05) were observed at 150mg/kg treatment, even after a lapse of 7 and 14 days of discontinuance of drug treatment. A dose dependent effect was also observed on the FSH, LH and testosterone serum levels. With 150mg/kg of ethanolic extract the values for FSH, LH and testosterone were 3.10±0.25mlU/ml, 6.87±0.18mlU/ml and 3.72±0.12ng/ml, respectively. In vitro nitric oxide release was 21.7±2.9μM, which was significantly higher compared to the control group (p<0.01). Sildenafil citrate exhibited also a significant effect on NO release, but no effect on hormone levels of rats was observed. The aphrodisiac potential of an ethanolic Spilanthes acmella extract was demonstrated in vitro and in vivo. N-Alkylamides might attribute to the improved sexual potential. Study lends support to the traditional utilization of S. acmella as a sexual stimulating agent.
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