A team of Canadian researchers has conducted a study, issued in the Journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. They have identified natural extracts of plants in the eastern James Bay area. These extracts have powerful anti-apoptotic properties that inhibit kidney cell death i.e. a characteristic of diabetic nephropathy (DN).
Diabetes is a multiplex disease that leads to a wide variety of complications. However, diabetic nephropathy (DN) or kidney damage is one of the most common outcomes of diabetes.
When it was first recorded in ancient Egypt, diabetes was examined mainly as a rare disease. Today, it has blown up into a worldwide epidemic. It had about 422 million sufferers in 2014. The occurrence of the disease is known to be spreading gradually, specifically in mid to low-income countries.
One of the most dangerous side effects of diabetes is diabetic nephropathy (DN). It is generally a precursor to kidney failure when left unaddressed. It is just one of the many outcomes of the abnormal apoptotic process that happens as a result of diabetes.
Apoptosis or cellular death is a natural procedure that’s important for the human body to sustain a healthy balance. It leads to the exchange of old and dysfunctional cells with newer ones. Its absence can cause severe diseases, such as cancer. However, too much apoptosis is barely a good thing.
In diabetes, the cells experience apoptosis at an abnormal rate. It typically starts with the loss of the pancreatic beta cells. Note that these cells are accountable for producing the hormone insulin. Deficiency in insulin affects blood glucose levels. Apart from pancreatic cells, the kidney cells, those in the nervous system, and the liver cells are also at considerable risk.
According to the research, DN is one of the most common developments of diabetes among the people of Canada. This has encouraged the researchers to look into potential natural treatments that are readily available in the area. They assembled a list of 17 plant species,
- Balsam fir – Abiesbalsamea (L.) Mill.
- Speckled alder – Alnusincana subsp. rugosa (Du Roi) R.T. Clausen
- Showy mountain ash – Sorbus decora (Sarg.) C.K. Schneid.
- Mountain cranberry – Vacciniumvitis-idaea L.
- Creeping snowberry – Gaultheria hispidula (L.) Muhl.
- Ground juniper – Juniperuscommunis L.
- Sheep Laurel – Kalmia angustifolia L.
- Tamarack – Larixlaricina Du Roi (K. Koch)
- Jackpine – Pinusbanksiana Lamb.
- Balsam poplar – Populusbalsamifera L.
- Labrador tea – Rhododendron groenlandicum (Oeder) Kron and Judd
- Northern Labrador tea – Rhododendron tomentosum (Stokes) Harmaja subsp. subarcticum(Harmaja) G. Wallace
- Common clubmoss – Lycopodium clavatum L.
- White spruce – Piceaglauca (Moench) Voss
- Black spruce – Piceamariana (P. Mill.) BSP
- Tealeaf willow – Salix planifoliaPursh
- Pitcher plant – Sarraceniapurpurea L.
Excerpts were produced from particular parts of the different plants. The investigators, then, took cultures of Madin-Darby Canine Kidney (MDCK) cells. These cells from a cocker spaniel are used for biological research including the kidneys.
The researchers caused damage to the MDCK cells by treating them in a hypertonic medium. This specific step was executed in the presence or absence of each of the 17 plant excerpts’ highest nontoxic concentrations.
After 18 hours of treatment, the cells were observed to evaluate the anti-apoptotic and cytoprotective effects of the extracts. The investigators observed the effect of the treatment on the activity of enzymes called caspases-3, -8, and -9. These enzymes perform a significant role in apoptosis.
After the test, the scholars recognized that Gaultheria hispidula and Abiesbalsamea have the most powerful cytoprotective and anti-apoptotic effects. According to them, these extracts prevented apoptosis by hindering the activity of caspase-9 in the mitochondrial apoptotic signaling pathway.
The study suggests that these plant extracts can serve as natural treatments for diabetes, minimizing the adverse effects of medication.