Potential nephrotoxic effects produced by steroidal saponins from hydro alcoholic extract of Tribulus terrestris in STZ-induced diabetic rats

Toxicol Mech Methods. 2013 Sep;23(7):548-57. doi: 10.3109/15376516.2013.797533. Epub 2013 May 30.


Chronic hyperglycemia leads to the development of microvascular complications like diabetic nephropathy. The present study investigated the potential effects of the hydroalcoholic extract of Tribulus terrestris, a plant of Zygophyllaceae family, on the renal complications in streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic rats. Diabetes was induced by administering STZ (90 mg/kg) to the 2-days old neonates. After 6 weeks of induction, diabetic rats were treated with 50 mg/kg hydroalcoholic extract of T. terrestris for 8 weeks. The anti-hyperglycaemic nature was confirmed by reduction in blood glucose and improvement in insulin levels. Diabetic renal injury associated with decrease in total proteins and albumin levels was observed to be improved by T. terrestris extract. Glomerular filtration rate along with inflammatory and growth factors, adiponectin and erythropoietin were also improved by the treatment, though the findings were not significant. However, the beneficial antidiabetic effects of T. terrestris extract in plasma were not observed in kidney histopathology. This was confirmed by the quantitative estimation of unhydrolyzed fraction of saponins (major component: protodioscin) in plasma and kidney samples of normal and diabetic rats. Hence, it can be concluded that 8 weeks treatment with T. terrestris extract produces potential toxic effects in kidney, which are independent of its anti-diabetic action.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Weight
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / drug therapy*
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate
  • Kidney / drug effects*
  • Kidney / physiopathology
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Saponins / toxicity*
  • Streptozocin
  • Tribulus / chemistry*


  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins
  • Plant Extracts
  • Saponins
  • Streptozocin