Phytochemical studies have revealed that the plant contains terpenoids, aurone and isoflavonoids glycosides and associated phenolic compounds

Pharmacological activities of Pterocarpus marsupium

 Pterocarpus marsupium plant belonging to family Fabaceae has been used in India and its adjacent countries due to its various biological activities from ancient times. All parts of P. marsupium is used as a primitive medicine for domestic remedy against several human diseases. It has been broadly used in Homoeopathic, Ayurvedic and Unani systems of medicine. It is a deciduous tree, generally known as Malabar or Indian Kino tree. 

Phytochemical studies have revealed that the plant contains terpenoids, aurone and isoflavonoids glycosides and associated phenolic compounds

It is present especially in Western Ghats areas, Karnataka-Kerala regions and found in Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat and Orissa. Traditionally, the plant product are being used as cooling, external application as anthelminthic, headache, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, aphrodisiac, in mental aberrations, biliousness and ulcers.

Phytochemical studies have revealed that the plant contains terpenoids, aurone and isoflavonoids glycosides and associated phenolic compounds, lupenol, epicatechin, β-sitosterol. P. marsupium is the very rich sources of flavonoid and polyphenolic compounds. Its heartwood possesses anti-inflammatory, astringent, anodyne and antidiabetic properties and also cataract,  hypertriglyceridemia, cardiotonic, hepatoprotective activity and as a selective inhibitor of COX-2.

Scientific classification  

Family: Fabaceae 
Domain: Eukaryota 
Kingdom: Plantae 
Subkingdom: Viridaeplantae 
Phylum: Magnoliophyta 
Subphylum: Euphyllophytina
Class: Magnoliopsida
Subclass: Rosidae 
Super order: Fabanae
Order: Fabales 
Genus: Pterocarpus  ¨C15CSpecies: Marsupium ¨C16C 

Pharmacological activities 

Analgesic Activity 

In an investigation, PM leaves were successively extracted with petroleum ether, ethyl acetate and methanol. Then these extracts were utilized for studying the analgesic activity by acetic acid induced writhing assay in Swiss albino mice. 

Significant analgesic activity was shown -methanol extract being most potent followed by ethyl acetate and petroleum ether extracts. The central analgesic activity of PM bark extract studied using the hot-plate method showed that the pain threshold reduced and the response latency period to thermal stimulus in mice increased in the same manner as that of the reference drug-Pentazocine.

CNS activity 

(-)-Epicatechin was separated from the bark and it was established for its action on CNS of rats, mice and frog. It was examined that (-)-epicatechin don’t have any effect on CNS of rats, mice and frog. (-)-Epicatechin had been showing positive chronotropic and inotropic effects on the heart of frog and propranolol use to block this effect. Hyperglycemia is produced in rats at higher doses (200 and 500 mg/kg b. wt.) of this compound and this effect is also prevented by propranolol indicating adrenergic activity.


Anti-bacterial Activity 

The antibacterial activity of PM stem methanolic extract was tested against gram positive bacteria-Bacillus coagulans and gram negative bacteria- Escherichia coli using the paper disc diffusion method. 100mg/ml concentration significantly inhibited the growth of both the bacterias. 

The Hexane, ethyl acetate and methanol extracts of PM bark and leaves have shown antimicrobial activity against four selected Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria. In vitro studies have shown that PM inhibits Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Streptococcus pyrogens and Staphylococcus aureus. 

Another research investigation showed positive indications for anti-microbial activity against two gram positive (Enterococci and Staphylococcus aureus) and negative (Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa) microbial organisms and a fungal strain Candida albicans. 

PM ethanolic extract was evaluated for antimicrobial potential against Bacillus polymyxa, Vibrio cholera and Candida albicans using cyclic voltammetry. The low anodic current and low anodic peak potential were obtained indicating the good reducing ability of the molecules resulting in good antioxidant activity of the extract. The results depicted the significant antimicrobial activity at different dosages

Hepatoprotective activity 

Histology and liver biomarkers (serum protein, total bilirubin, alanine amino transaminase, alkaline phosphatase and aspartate amino transaminase) results shown that methanol and aqueous stem bark extracts (25 m/kg per day per oral for 14 days) possesses significant hepatoprotective effect in carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) induced hepatotoxicity model. Levels of the enzymes (lactate dehydrogenase, aspartate transaminase, alkaline phosphatase, alanine transaminase and bilirubin) were considerably reduced in the group treated with plant extracts (100 mg/kg b.wt orally) in CCl4 induced hepatotoxicity model. The investigation suggested that plant was having good protecting effect on CCl4 induced hepatotoxicity

Antidiarrheal activity 

Ethanolic extract of P. marsupium heartwood (250 and 500 mg/kg b.wt.) significantly decreased the severity and frequency of charcoal and castor oil induced gastrointestina motility or diarrhea confirming the strength of traditional use of this plant as the modality for diarrhea.

Anti-inflammatory activity 

Methanolic and aqueous extract evaluated anti-inflammatory effect by acute inflammation model using carrageenan induced rat paw edema method. Methanol extract at dose 50 mg/kg b. wt. and aqueous extract at dose 100 mg/kg b.wt. indicated significant decrease in paw edema. It was found that both extracts had significant anti-inflammatory activity.67-68 P. marsupium aqueous extract at doses of 100 mg/kg and 200 mg/kg b.wt was found to decrease the elevated inflammatory cytokine, TNF-α level in NIDDM diabetic rats

Antiulcer activity 

Methanolic heartwood extract of P. marsupium (750 mg/kg b.wt) lowers the blood glucose level in both normal rats and NIDDM rats. It saved the mucosa by influencing the increase in mucosal offensive (LPO and NO) factors and decrease in defensive factors (superoxide dismutase and catalase). It did not indicate any safety against ulceration caused by aspirin, pylorus ligation, cold restraint stress, and ethanol in normal rats

Cardiotonic activity 

Aqueous heartwood extract of P. marsupium shows cardiotonic activity using isolated frog heart perfusion. At a very low concentration (0.25 mg/ml), a considerable rise in force of contraction and reduced heart rate as compared to standard digoxin. At higher dose (4 mg/ml) cardiac arrest occurred. The result showed that P. marsupium significantly increases contraction force of heart.

COX-2 Inhibition 

P. marsupium extract evaluated for selective cyclo-oxygenase (COX-2) inhibitory action due to presence of pterostilbene. In a whole blood assay method, it is revealed that the dose of P. marsupium (450 mg/kg b.wt) did not reduce PGE2 production. During the study, no changes were observed from the base line of the safety parameters and no extract associated adverse effects occurred.

Anti-cancer Activity 

Pterostilbene and Stilebene have been found to exhibit the anti-cancer potential. An investigation showed that Pterostilbene inhibited the cell proliferating factors like Akt, Bcl-2 and induced the mitochondrial apoptic signals like Bax, and the series of caspases. It was also found to inhibit two important metastasis inducers-Matrix Metalloproteinase 9 (MMP) and α-Methyl Acyl CoA racemose (AMACR). Thus, Pterostilbene has manifold target sites to induce apoptosis and it can be used for the treatment of breast and prostate cancer. Resveratrol has also been reported to possess anticancer potential

Antidiabetic activity 

The ethanolic extract of P. marsupium stem wood has antidiabetic activity. The highest blood glucose lowering effect (57.56%) was found in 180 min for standard drug glimepiride along with for ethanolic extract at a dose of 200 mg/kg b. wt. (51.30%) and at 400 mg/kg b. wt. (55.13%). The extract showed antidiabetic activity which is dose and time dependent. The ethanolic extract of heartwood (1gm/kg per oral and 2 gm/kg per oral) significantly reduced the raised glucose levels in Wistar male albino rats showing antidiabetic effect in dexamethasone-induced hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia. 

Marsupsin and Pterostilbene the most important phenolic compounds of the heartwood after intraperitoneal administration using each dose 40 mg/kg b.wt. Considerably decreased the level of blood glucose in hyperglycemic rat with hyperglycemia caused by streptozotocin mostly useful in non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) with obesity matched with control metformin. All these compounds Marsupsin, Pterosupin and liquiritigenin decreased the body weight of albino rats.

P. marsupium methanol extract activates the glucose transport in a PPARγ mediated PI3 kinase dependent fashion on Glut-4, PPARγ and PI3 kinase while the P. marsupium isoflavone exerted the same glucose transport activity in an alternate mechanism, PPARγ mediated but PI3 kinase independent fashion.

Aqueous extract (200 mg/kg) considerably reduced the raised level of chronic systemic inflammation cytokine TNF-α at both doses in type-2 diabetic rat.
Aqueous extract showed significant effect in NIDDM induced by administering streptozocin 90 mg/kg i.p on cytokine TNF-α because of its isoflavone components. It was originated to be raised cytokine TNF-α in non-treated diabetic rats because of prolonged systemic inflammation. Aqueous extract at both doses (100 and 200 mg/kg b.wt.) significantly reduced the raised TNF-α level in rats.

Anti-fungal Activity 

PM showed beneficial effects as a topical agent against T. cruris and T. corporis. Good response was obtained within 3 days after first application.

Anti-hyperlipidemic Activity 

Numerous natural products including PM have been screened for their hypolipidemic potential. The ethanolic extract of PM heartwood and its flavonoid phytoconstituents marsupin, pterosupin, and liquiritigenin have shown anti-hyperlipidemic effect. The experimental observations proved that the extract was able to reduce serum triglyceride, total cholesterol, LDL- and VLDL- cholesterol without any significant effect on the level of HDL- cholesterol. It was also shown that liquiritigenin and pterosupin lowered the serum cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and antherogenic index while pterosupin also reduced the triglyceride level. Another investigation proved the utility of aqueous extract of PM bark in hypertriglyceridaemia


Anti-oxidant Activity 

The anti-oxidant potential of PM bark (aqueous, methanol and ethyl acetate extract) has been investigated with the aid of numerous antioxidant models, viz DPPH, ABTS, NO, OH, SO and inhibition of in vitro lipid peroxidation. The findings indicated the free radical scavenging potential of PM. 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl assay was used to evaluate the in vitro anti-oxidant potential of PM bark extract and the results were expressed as IC50. PM showed the IC50 of 53.0 μg/ml as compared to that of ascorbic acid (standard) with IC50 of 34.0 μg/ml. In a study, PM extract sheltered the cardiac muscles against the oxidative stress induced by H2O

Toxic effects 

PM is not suggested during constipation because of its astringent property. As the herbal treatment for diabetes is given for a longer duration, so the genotoxic assessment of PM was done using both somatic and germ cells. The results indicated that the extract was not genotoxic. (-)-Epicatechin isolated from PM was studied for its action on CNS of frog, rat and mice. The results did not show any toxic effects on heart. Even in higher doses (-)-epicatechin exhibited no untoward effects. 

A study group of ICMR investigated the antidiabetic activity of PM at multi-center level and found that the blood glucose level significantly decreased without any side effects 


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