Ethnopharmacological relevance Ficus umbellata Vahl. (Moraceae) is a medicinal plant used in Cameroon to treat amenorrhea as well as other physiological disorders related to menopause. Aim of study In order to justify scientifically its traditional use, the estrogen-like properties of the aqueous (AE) and methanol (MeOH) extracts of F. umbellata were investigated. Material and methods In vitro, the ability of different extracts of F. umbellata to activate estrogen receptors α (ERα) and β (ERβ) in cell-based reporter gene assays using human embryonic kidney (HEK293T) cells transfected with ERs was tested. In vivo, a 3-day uterotrophic assay and the capacity of the extracts to alleviate hot flushes in ovariectomized adult rats were tested. Using a bioassay-guided fractionation the major compound of F. umbellata was isolated and tested in vitro on HEK293T-ERα and ERβ cells. Results AE and MeOH extracts significantly altered ERα as well as ERβ activities. In vivo, both extracts significantly increase the uterine and vaginal epithelium thickness, and uterine total protein levels in a dose dependent manner. Interestingly, both extracts of F. umbellata at the dose of 100 mg/kg BW significantly decreased the total number, average duration as well as frequency of hot flushes in experimental rats compared to age-matched OVX controls. Finally, 7-methylumbelliferone, a coumarin was characterized as the major compound of F. umbellata; however this compound did not transactivate ERα as well ERβ in vitro. Conclusion These aforementioned results suggest that F. umbellata extracts as used by the traditional practitioner have estrogen-like effects and may alleviate some menopausal problems such as vaginal dryness and hot flushes.
- Ficus umbellate
- Hot flushes