The possible effect of Hypoxis hemerocalledia (African potato) on blood glucose levels : an in vitro study
The plant Hypoxis hemerocallidea, also known as the African potato, is commonly used as a traditional medicine to treat diabetes in South Africa. The mechanism by which it lowers blood glucose levels is not known. The main aim of this research was to study the possible hypoglycemic effect of HH using RIN-5 F pancreatic tumor cells. To accomplish this, the study was divided into three parts: (1) to test whether exposure of RIN-5F cells to glucose and HH extract affect the cell proliferation and cell viability, (2) to test whether the HH extract have an effect on insulin secretion, and (3) to test whether the HH extract has an effect on alpha amylase and alpha glucosiadase enzyme activity. The RIN-5F cells were exposed to different concentrations of glucose (5, 10, 20, 37.5, 50, 55, 74, and 92.3 mM) for different times (1, 3, 6 and 24 hours). The RIN-5F cells were also exposed to different concentrations of HH (50, 100, 150, 200 and 500 μ/ml) for different times (1, 3, 6 and 24 hours). Cell proliferation was evaluated using crystal violet staining and cell viability was evaluated using the XTT assay. To evaluate the effect of glucose and HH on RIN-5 F cell insulin secretion the cells were exposed to HH (100 μg/ml or 500 μg/ml) and / or glucose (2 mM or 50 mM) for 30 or 90 minutes. Insulin, α-amylase activity and α-glucosidase activity were evaluated by using commercially available colorimetric assays. Enzymatic activity in the presence of HH was compared with positive controls for α-amylase activity or α-glucosidase activity. Results are expressed as means ± SEM or median. Statistical differences among groups were analyzed by analyses of variance. P < 0.05 was considered as significant. An increase in the cell viability and cell proliferation was found when RIN-5 F cells were exposed to high glucose concentrations and a high dose of HH extract for a short time period (1, 3 and 6 hours). When the cells were exposed to the HH extract over 24 hours, HH did not affect cell viability significantly. Insulin secretion from RIN-5 F cells was increased when exposed to low glucose (2 mM) or high glucose (50 mM) for 30 minutes. Insulin secretion was increased from RIN5F cells after exposure to low HH (100 μg/ml) or high HH (500 μg/ml) for 30 minutes. Exposure of RIN5-F cells to HH for 90 minutes caused a further increase in insulin secretion from (4.3±0.17 mIU/mg protein; P ≤ 0.01) in 100 μg/ml, to (7.87±0.17 mIU/mg protein; P ≤ 0.001) in 500 μg/ml. At both 30 minutes and 90 minutes, insulin secretion was significantly higher when cells where exposed to 500 μg/ml HH compared to 100 μg/ml HH. Insulin secretion by cells exposed to 2 mM glucose + 100 μg/ml HH (4.69±0.16 mIU/mg protein; P ≤ 0.001) was significantly higher than when exposed to 2 mM glucose only (2.27±0.17 mIU/mg protein), while the insulin secretion in 2 mM glucose + 500 μg/ml HH (2.56±0.17 mIU/mg protein; P > 0.05) was not significantly different from that in 2 mM glucose treated cells (2.27±0.17 mIU/mg protein). Similar results are obtained after 90 minutes. In the presence of high-glucose (50 mM), at both 30 minutes and 90 minutes, insulin secretion was significantly decreased when cells where exposed to low concentration of HH (100 μg/ml) and high concentration of HH (500 μg/ml). The HH extract produced α-amylase enzyme inhibition. The maximum inhibition was at a concentration of 10μg/ml (922±117U/ml; P ≤ 0.01). The 5 μg/ml concentrations failed to produce significant inhibition. The HH extract had significant α- glucosidase inhibitory activity at a concentration of 5μg/ml (0.12±0.3U/ml; P ≤ 0.001) or 10μg/ml (0.13±0.3U/ml; P ≤ 0.001). In conclusion, based on its ability to inhibit α-amylase and α- glucosidase activity HH has the potential to be used in control of blood glucose levels. The HH aqueous extract increased insulin secretion under our basic experimental conditions and in the presence of low glucose levels, but not at high (50 mM) glucose concentrations. Insulin secretion in the presence of different glucose concentrations, in the presence of HH, needs further investigation. It is recommended that the ability of HH to stimulate insulin secretion be evaluated at 15-20 mM glucose.