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Effects Of Phoenix Dactylifera On Some Reproductive Organs And Hormonal Profiles Of Male Wistar Rats


Phoenix dactylifera (Date palm) belongs to the family Arecaceae and its leaves, barks, pits, fruits and pollens have anticancer, antioxidant, hepatoprotective, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral activities. It is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, steroids, flavonoid, saponins and simple sugars.The aim of the study was to evaluate the effects of aqueous extract of dry date palm fruit on some reproductive organs and hormonal profiles of male Wistar rats. Twenty (20) male Wistar rats were divided into four groups of five rats each. Group I serve as the control and received distilled water while three (3) experimental groups (II, III and IV) were treated with aqueous extract of Phoenix dactylifera at250 mg/kg, 500 mg/kg and 1000mg/kg body weight respectively orogastrically once daily for 35 days. At the end of the experiment, the Wistar rats were sacrificed using cervical dislocation and blood samples were collected through cardiac puncture for hormonal assay [testosterone, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH)]. Semen were collected from right epididymis and counted; smears were made and stained with cresyl violent and fuelgen stain for sperm morphology.The testes, left epididymis, seminal vesicles and prostate glands were dissected, weighed and processed for light microscopic study;Morphometric analysis was performed to measure seminiferous tubular diameter, size of interstices and epididymal epithelial thickness.The result showed significant decrease in serum testosterone levels,sperm count, sperm motility and spermmorphology with decrease in size of interstices and epididymal epithelial thickness, distortion of spermatogenic cells, epididymal epithelium and prostate gland with degeneration of Leydig cells in rats treated with Phoenix dactylifera extract as compared to that of the control at P≤0.05with no effect on FSH and LH. In conclusion, the aqueous extract of dry date palm fruit have the potentials of causing infertility in male Wistar rats by affecting Leydig cells, thereby decreasing serum testosterone levels, sperm count, motility and morphology.


Background of the Study
Phoenix dactylifera (Date palm), family Arecaceae is cultivated for its edible sweet fruit. Although its place of origin is unknown because of long cultivation, it probably originated from lands around Iraq (Mesopotamia) and its cultivation spread to the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, and the Middle Eastern Countries, possibly as early as 4000 BC (Morton, 1987; Janick, 2005; Zohary et al., 2012). The tree has a slender trunk covered with the overlapping persistent woody leaf base and can grow to about 24 metres in height either singly or forming a clump with several stems from a single root system(Chandra et al., 1992).The leaves are pinnate, resembling a large feather that can be as long as 6 metres with about 150 leaflets. The date palm is dioecious having separate male and female plants thus, male and female flowers are borne on separate plants and are unlike in appearance, they are naturally wind pollinated but in traditional oasis horticulture and in the modern commercial orchards they are entirely pollinated artificially (Chandra et al., 1992).
The date (Dabino in Hausa, Debino in Yoruba) is a one-seeded fruit (berry) usually oblong but varying much in shape, size, colour (green, bright red to bright yellow), quality, and consistency of flesh, depending on variety (Chao and Krueger, 2007).Only female trees produce fruit, and more than 1,000 dates may appear on a single bunch weighing 8 kg or more. The fruits are highly nutritious and are a staple food for the people of North Africa and Middle East, where hundreds of varieties are grown for domestic and commercial purposes (Forbes, 1971).The dried fruit has more than 50% sugar by weight althoughglucose, fructose and sucrose contents depend on fruit type. It also contains about 2% of protein, fat, and mineral matter, 20–70 calories, vitamin C, riboflavin and thiamine depending on size and variety (Khanet al., 2008; Agboola and Adejumo, 2013). The date fruit extract also contains antioxidants such as coumaric and ferulic acids (Ismail and Radzi, 2013). The fruits ripen in four stages, which are known throughout the world by their Arabic names Kimri (Unripe), Khal (full-sized cruncy), rutab (soft ripe) and tamar (ripe sun-dried).Increased sweetness with ripening of dates results from the increase in total sugars and in soft cultivars the conversion of sucrose to fructose and glucose (Kader and Hussein, 2009).
The Ancient Egyptians ate the fruit at harvestand use them to make date wine. Dates are an important traditional crop in Iraq, Arabia, North Africa and Morocco where they are used in the treatment of various ailments/illness (Lim, 2012). They are nutritious, high-energy food, and important part of the diets of people in the Arab countries and are consumed fresh, dried, or in various processed forms (Kader and Hussein, 2009). Dates can also be chopped and used in a range of sweet and savory dishes, from tajines (tagines) in Morocco to puddings, ka’ak (types of Arab cookies) and other dessert items (Das and Sarin, 1936; Vayali, 2002). Date nut bread, a type of cake, is very popular in the United States, especially around holidays, they are also processed into cubes, paste (ajwa), date syrup or honey (dibs or rub) powder (date sugar), vinegar or alcohol in Libya, the Vinegar made from dates is a traditional product of the Middle East (Das and Sarin, 1936; Forbes, 1971). Recent innovations include chocolate-covered dates (Date bars) and products such as sparkling date juice, used in some Islamic countries as a non-alcoholic version of champagne, for special occasions and religious times such as Ramadan. Date palm kernels have been shown to exhibit anti-aging properties and significant reduction in skin wrinkles in women (Bauza, 2002).
Figure 1.1: Date Palm plant (Date Palm Agro, 2015).
1.2 Statement of Research Problems
The prevalence of infertility is higher in developing/underdeveloped countries where limited resources are available for diagnosis and treatment and a significant proportion of couples that experience fertility problems are affected by its social and psychological effects (Hamada et al., 2011; CDC, 2014), while 50% of infertility cases are as a result of male factor (sperm abnormalities) (Jarow et al., 2002).
1.3 Significance of the Study
This study was undertaken to evaluate the possible influence of Phoenix dactylifera on some reproductive organs (testes, epididymis, seminal vesicles and prostate gland)administered in aqueous formwhich is commonly used by the people of Middle East and North Africa (Forbes, 1971; Al Qarawi, 2005). This could be used as a gonadotropic agent or as a male contraceptive.
1.4 Study Hypothesis
Aqueous extract of Phoenix dactyliferafruit has negative effects on the histology and morphometric parameters of the testis, epididymis, seminal vesicle and prostate gland, as well as the reproductive hormones and epididymal sperm count, motility and morphology of male Wistar rats.
1.5 Aim of the Study
To evaluate the possible effects of aqueous extract of Phoenix dactylifera on the testis, epididymis, seminal vesicles, prostate gland, epididymal sperm count, motility and morphology and hormonal profiles of male Wistar rats.
1.6 Objectives of the Study The objectives of the study include the following:
i. To evaluate the effect of aqueous extract of Phoenix dactylifera on the levels of testosterone, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) in the serum of male Wistar rats.
ii. To evaluate the effects of aqueous extract of Phoenix dactyliferaon the epididymal sperm count, motility and morphology of Wistar rats.
iii. To evaluate the histological changes that may occur in the testes, epididymis, seminal vesicles and prostate gland of male Wistar rats following the administration of aqueous extract of Phoenix dactylifera.
iv. To determine the morphometric changes that might occur in the testes and epididymis following the administration of aqueous extracts ofPhoenix dactylifera to male Wistar rats.


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