Immunomodulatory Effect of Gymnema sylvestre (R.Br.) Leaf Extract: An In Vitro Study in Rat Model

PLoS One. 2015 Oct 16;10(10):e0139631. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0139631. eCollection 2015.


Gymnema sylvestre Wild R.Br (family: Asclepidaceae) is a valuable medicinal plant used in folk medicine to treat diabetes, obesity, asthma etc. in India for antiquity. Diabetes mellitus is a syndrome characterized immunologically by lymphocyte apoptosis and reduced cell-mediated and humoral immunity. Modulation of immune responses to alleviate diseases has been of interest, and traditional herbal medicines may play an important role in this regard. In this study, we aim to evaluate the immunomodulatory potential of methanolic extract of G. sylvestre leaf using rat model. HPLC analysis of leaf extract was carried out for gymnemic acid. The method involves the initial hydrolysis of gymnemic acids, the active ingredients, to a common aglycone followed by the quantitative estimation of gymnemagenin, using gymnemagenin as reference standard. Gymnemic acid content was 2.40% (w/w) in G. sylvestre leaf extract. In vitro immunomodulatory activity of the methanolic extract of G. sylvestre leaf (1-200μg/ml) was evaluated by gauging its effects on nitroblue tetrazolium reduction and nitrite release in rat peritoneal macrophages and on mitogen (ConA, PHA and LPS) induced splenic lymphocyte proliferation. G. sylvestre leaf extract showed significant (<0.05) enhancement in NO and ROS generation in macrophages and in proliferation of lymphocytes in dose dependent manner. EC50 value was 3.10, 3.75 and 2.68 μg/ml for NBT reduction, nitrite release and lymphoproliferation, respectively. Potential effect was observed at 100 μg/ml in NO and ROS generation in macrophages and 20 μg/ml in lymphocyte proliferation. G. sylvestre leaf extract stimulates macrophage reactivity, increasing the level of activity even higher when combined with PMA or LPS. These findings suggest the presence of active compounds, gymnemic acid, in methanolic extract of G. sylvestre leaf that stimulates both myeloid and lymphoid components of immune system, and therefore can restore the innate immune function. Through this study, the traditional knowledge of anti-diabetic property of G. sylvestre is scientifically supplemented with its immunomodulatory properties.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gymnema sylvestre / chemistry*
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / chemistry
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Immunologic Factors / chemistry
  • Immunologic Factors / pharmacology*
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / metabolism*
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Saponins / chemistry
  • Saponins / pharmacology
  • Triterpenes / chemistry
  • Triterpenes / pharmacology


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Plant Extracts
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Saponins
  • Triterpenes
  • Nitric Oxide
  • gymnemic acid

Grant support

The authors have no support or funding to report.