Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of a hypoglycemic fraction from Cucurbita ficifolia Bouché in streptozotocin-induced diabetes mice

Am J Chin Med. 2012;40(1):97-110. doi: 10.1142/S0192415X12500085.


Type 2 diabetes is characterized by oxidative stress and a chronic low-grade inflammatory state, which also play roles in the pathogenesis of this disease and the accompanying vascular complications by increasing the production of free radicals and pro-inflammatory cytokines. Cucurbita ficifolia Bouché (C. ficifolia) is an edible Mexican plant whose hypoglycemic activity has been demonstrated in several experimental and clinical conditions. Recently, D-chiro-inositol has been proposed as the compound responsible for the hypoglycemic effects; however, the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential of this plant has not yet been explored. The aim of this research is to study the influence of a hypoglycemic, D-chiro-inositol-containing fraction from the C. ficifolia fruit (AP-Fraction) on biomarkers of oxidative stress, as well as on the inflammatory cytokines in streptozotocin-induced diabetes. The AP-Fraction obtained from the mature fruit of C. ficifolia contained 3.31 mg of D-chiro-inositol/g of AP-Fraction. The AP-Fraction was administrated daily by gavage to normal mice for 15 days as a preventive treatment. Then these animals were given streptozotocin, and the treatments were continued for an additional 33 days. Pioglitazone was used as a hypoglycemic drug for comparison. Administration of the AP-Fraction significantly increased glutathione (GSH) and decreased malondialdehyde (MDA) in the liver without significantly affecting the levels in other tissues. The AP-Fraction reduced TNF-α and increased IL-6 and IFN-γ in serum. Interestingly, the AP-Fraction also increased IL-10, an anti-inflammatory cytokine. These results suggest that C. ficifolia might be used as an alternative medication for the control of diabetes mellitus and that it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in addition to its hypoglycemic activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Cucurbita / chemistry*
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2
  • Fruit
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Inflammation Mediators / blood
  • Inositol / pharmacology
  • Inositol / therapeutic use*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Malondialdehyde / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Pioglitazone
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Thiazolidinediones / pharmacology


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Blood Glucose
  • Cytokines
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Plant Extracts
  • Thiazolidinediones
  • Inositol
  • Malondialdehyde
  • Glutathione
  • Pioglitazone