Toxicity assessment of watermelon seed supplemented diet in rats

Drug Chem Toxicol. 2022 Jul;45(4):1891-1898. doi: 10.1080/01480545.2021.1894699. Epub 2021 Mar 7.


Health benefits have been attributed to the consumption of watermelon (Citrullus lanatus L.) seeds in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia but the potential toxicity especially on chronic use remains to be investigated. Here, diets containing watermelon seeds (WMSs) at 2.5% or 5% were eaten ad libitum daily for 21 d by male and female Wistar rats. Changes in body and organ (liver, kidney, brain, testis, and ovary) weights following diet supplementation were monitored. Biomarkers of organ injury, such as alanine aminotransferase (ALT), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), cholesterol (CHO), triglyceride (TRI), urea, and creatinine (CRE) were measured. WMS-formulated diet led to a decrease in body weight in male but not in female rats compared to the control group. Also, testes weight significantly increased, whereas a decrease in that of the ovaries was noted. Although the ingestion of WMS did not significantly alter the weights of the liver and brain, a trend toward reduction was noticed. No significant changes were observed for the serum levels of ALT, ALP, CHO, and TRI in all rats. However, the kidney may be targeted for toxicity as indicated by significant elevations in serum urea and CRE levels in male and female rats when compared to controls. Furthermore, the sperm morphology anomalies observed after WMS supplementation demonstrate the potentially detrimental effects of high consumption of the seeds on the male reproductive system. We conclude that WMSs at 2.5% or 5% dose in the diet may elicit negative effects in organs particularly on the kidney and testes in rats.

Keywords: Watermelon seeds; kidney; safety; testes; toxicity.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Citrullus* / toxicity
  • Diet
  • Dietary Supplements* / toxicity
  • Female
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Seeds
  • Triglycerides
  • Urea


  • Triglycerides
  • Urea