Molecular approach to identify antidiabetic potential of Azadirachta indica

J Ayurveda Integr Med. Jul-Sep 2015;6(3):165-74. doi: 10.4103/0975-9476.157950.


Background: Azadirachta indica (Neem) is a medicinal plant, used in Ayurveda for treating various diseases, one of which is diabetes mellitus. It is known to possess antiinflammatory, antipyretic, antimicrobial, antidiabetic and diverse pharmacological properties. However, the molecular mechanism underlying the effect of A. indica on insulin signal transduction and glucose homeostasis is obscure.

Objective: The aim was to study the effects of A. indica aqueous leaf extract on the expression of insulin signaling molecules and glucose oxidation in target tissue of high-fat and fructose-induced type-2 diabetic male rat.

Materials and methods: The oral effective dose of A. indica leaf extract (400 mg/kg body weight [b.wt]) was given once daily for 30 days to high-fat diet-induced diabetic rats. At the end of the experimental period, fasting blood glucose, oral glucose tolerance, serum lipid profile, and the levels of insulin signaling molecules, glycogen, glucose oxidation in gastrocnemius muscle were assessed.

Results: Diabetic rats showed impaired glucose tolerance and impairment in insulin signaling molecules (insulin receptor, insulin receptor substrate-1, phospho-IRS-1(Tyr632), phospho-IRS-1(Ser636), phospho-Akt(Ser473), and glucose transporter 4 [GLUT4] proteins), glycogen concentration and glucose oxidation. The treatment with A. indica leaf extract normalized the altered levels of blood glucose, serum insulin, lipid profile and insulin signaling molecules as well as GLUT4 proteins at 400 mg/kg b.wt dose.

Conclusion: It is concluded from the present study that A. indica may play a significant role in the management of type-2 diabetes mellitus, by improving the insulin signaling molecules and glucose utilization in the skeletal muscle.

Keywords: Azadirachta indica; high-fat diet; insulin resistance; type-2 diabetes.