Use of palm oil fractions for the treatment of lead poisoning in rat models

Kofi Blackson Ankrah


The palm fruit (Elaies guineensis) is the source of palmitic-oleic rich semi-solid fat and fat-soluble minor components, made up of vitamin E (tocopherols and tocotrienols), carotenoids and phytosterols. This study was in two parts. Firstly, it examined the effects of palm oil fractionation methods on recovery and concentration of carotenes, tocopherols and tocotrienols which are known to have nutritional and medicinal properties. Secondly, the study also investigated lead (Pb) poisoning effects on blood of albino rats and the efficacy of treatment with crude palm oil and palm oil extracts. The extraction methods employed in the study were adsorption chromatography, saponification and bleaching. The palm fruits used were of the Tenera variety, obtained from a plantation located at Goaso in Ghana. Examination of the palm oil extracts revealed that the unsaponifiable fraction contained 19,570 ppm carotene, 39,290 ppm vitamin E (tocols), 2.7% of carotenes, and 4.6% of free fatty acids (FFA). The adsorption chromatographic isolated fraction contained 16,310 ppm of carotenes, 19,870 ppm of tocols and 3.3% of FFA. The bleached fraction had a reduced level of carotenes and tocols with values of 209 ppm and 640 ppm respectively. A high FFA of 13.1% was recorded. The crude palm oil contained 530 ppm of carotenes, 1,040 ppm of tocols and 4.6% of FFA. Oral administration of 2 g/L lead acetate significantly decreased red blood cell count, haemoglobin level, haematocrit value and platelet count 40 days after treatment in rats, compared with the control group (that is, rats administered with deionized water). Crude palm oil and palm oil extracts administered (0.5 ml/kg body weight/day) significantly restored the normal blood conditions of the lead-poisoned rats. However, the bleached fraction had no significant effect on the rats. The unsaponifiable matter and the adsorption chromatographic fractions reversed the poisoning effect of lead in the rats to near normal levels. The efficiency of these extracts in treating lead toxicity depended on the contents of carotenes and tocols, which are biological antioxidants. Considering oxidative stress as the major mechanism of lead toxicity, and this study has shown that the high level of antioxidants in palm oil extracts makes it effective natural product for the treatment of lead poisoning.

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