Evaluation of acute and subacute toxicity of hydroethanolic extract of Dolichandra unguis-cati L. leaves in rats

J Ethnopharmacol. 2017 Apr 18;202:147-153. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2017.03.011. Epub 2017 Mar 10.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Dolichandra unguis-cati L. is a native climbing plant of Brazil, popularly known as "unha de gato". It has been traditionally used mainly as an antipyretic, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor agent, yet little toxicological information is found in the literature.

Aim of the study: To identify the chemical composition of the hydroethanolic extract obtained from the leaves of Dolichandra uniguis-cati and to evaluate the acute and subacute toxicity in male and female rats, in order to assess the safety profile of this plant.

Materials and methods: In the acute study, a single dose (2000mg/kg) of the extract was orally administered to male and female rats. In the subacute study, the extract was orally administered to male and female rats at doses 100, 200 and 400mg/kg for 28 days. Behavioral changes, catalase and tbars evaluations, biochemical, hematological and histopathological analysis were determined. The extract' chemical composition was accessed through UHPLC/MS.

Results: Chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, ferulic acid, vanillinic acid, p-coumaric acid, rosmarinic acid, trans-cinnamic acid, luteolin, apigenin, quercitrin and quercetin were identified in the extract. In the acute treatment, the extract was classified as safe (category 5), according to the OECD guide. In relation to the subacute study, females showed a reduction in AST (100, 200 and 400mg/kg), ALT (200mg/kg) and BUN (100 and 200mg/kg) levels, while male rats 400mg/kg presented an increase in AST levels. The Chol dosage significantly decreased in female rats in a dose-dependent manner, whereas for male rats this parameter showed no statistically significant reductions. No behavioral and histopathological changes were recorded.

Conclusions: Our results indicate that the hydroethanolic extract of Dolichandra unguis-cati leaves did not present relevant toxic effects when administered orally to male and female rats. The extract also showed a potential hypocholesterolemic activity.

Keywords: Acute toxicity; Apigenin (PubChem CID: 5280443); Caffeic acid (PubChem CID: 689043); Chlorogenic acid (PubChem CID: 1794427); Dolichandra unguis-cati; Ferulic acid (PubChem CID: 445858); Luteolin (PubChem CID: 5280445); Quercetin (PubChem CID: 5280343); Quercitrin (PubChem CID: 5280459); Rosmarinic acid (PubChem CID: 5281792); Rutin (PubChem CID: 5280805); Subacute toxicity; Trans-cinnamic acid (PubChem CID: 444539); UHPLC/MS; Vanilinic acid (PubChem CID: 8468); p-coumaric acid (PubChem CID: 637542).

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases / metabolism
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Bignoniaceae / chemistry
  • Bignoniaceae / toxicity*
  • Catalase / metabolism
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / enzymology
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / pathology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Liver / pathology
  • Male
  • Plant Extracts / analysis
  • Plant Extracts / toxicity*
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry
  • Plant Leaves / toxicity*
  • Rats


  • Antioxidants
  • Plant Extracts
  • Catalase
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases