Effects of Crude Khat (Catha Edulis) Extract on Selected Cytokine Profiles and Foetal Growth among Pregnant Baboons (Papio Anubis)
Wambua, Philomena Nduku
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Khat (Catha edulis) is a dicotyledonous evergreen shrub of the family Celastraceae whose fresh leaves are habitually chewed for their euphoric properties. The habit of khat chewing is mainly found in Arabia, Somalia, Kenya and has spread to Asia, Europe and other parts of the world due to improvement in transport and communication. Khat consumption was traditionally confined to adult men of the population. However; today khat chewing has become popular among all segments of the population including reproductive aged women. Studies have indicated that khat consumption can be associated with infertility and cardiovascular diseases. However, there have been no such studies on the effects of khat on immunological profiles especially in pregnant females, blood pressure, body weight as well as foetal development during pregnancy. Therefore, the present study sought to determine the effect of crude khat extract on Th 1/Th 2 cytokines, chemokines, blood pressure, weight of pregnant baboons and newborns. The study group comprised of six pregnant olive baboons (Papio anubis) which were divided into two groups; the experimental group (n=3) and, the control group (n=3). During the 3rd and the 4th months of gestation, each study subject in the experimental group was given in addition to normal feed, 50ml of crude khat extract orally once a week and bled once a week for two months. Each study subject in the control group was given in addition to normal feed, 50ml of normal sterile saline orally once a week and bled once a week for the two months. In the 5th and 6th months of gestation, both groups were fed normally and bled once every two weeks for two months till the end of gestation. IFN-γ, IL-10, CXCL 10 and CXCL 13 were then determined using enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) technique and compared, blood pressure, temperature and body weight of the pregnant baboons was also determined while the birth weights of newborns were taken. Statistical comparisons between the groups were done using the Students t-test. Administration of khat extract induced a significant decrease in body weight (p=0.0001), in CXCL 13 (p=0.001), and a significant increase in blood pressure (systolic, p=0.049; diastolic, p=0.024), there was no significant difference in body temperature, in IL-10 and IFN-γ (p>0.05). The results suggest that khat consumption decreases levels of IL-10 and body weight; it also elevates blood pressure in baboons. These can be detrimental to pregnancy and the fetus; therefore, it is recommended that pregnant women should be discouraged from consuming khat.
- MST-Zoological Sciences