J Ethnopharmacol. 1998 Apr; 60(3): 235-46.
Immunocontraceptive activity guided fractionation and characterization of active constituents of neem (Azadirachta indica) seed extracts.
National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi, India.
A novel approach for immunocontraception by intervention of local cell mediated immunity in the reproductive system by using single intrauterine application of neem oil has been described earlier. The reversible block in fertility was reported to last for 107-180 days in female Wistar rats (Upadhyay et al., 1990. Antifertility effects of neem oil by single intrauterine administration: A novel method of contraception. Proceedings Of The Royal Society Of London B 242, 175-180) and 7-11 months in monkeys (Upadhyay et al., 1994. Long term contraceptive effects of intrauterine neem treatment (IUNT) in bonnet monkeys: An alternative to intrauterine contraceptive devices. Contraception 49, 161-167). The present study, describes the identification and characterization of the biologically active fraction from neem seeds (Azadirachta indica A. Juss. Family Meliaceae), responsible for the above activity in adult female Wistar rats. Initial studies with the mechanically extracted oil and solvent extracts of neem seeds have revealed that the antifertility activity was present in constituents of low to intermediate polarity. A hexane extract of neem seeds was reported to be biologically active (Garg et al., 1994. Comparison of extraction procedures on the immunocontraceptive activity of neem seed extracts. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 22, 87-92). Subsequently, hexane extract was sequentially fractionated through the last active fraction using various separation techniques and tested for antifertility activity at each step. Preparative HPLC was used for isolating individual components of the active fraction in quantities, sufficient for characterization. An analytical HPLC method was developed for standardization of the fraction. The active fraction was identified to be a mixture of six components, which comprises of saturated, mono and di-unsaturated free fatty acids and their methyl esters. Dose response study was performed with the last active fractions. The antifertility activity with the active fraction was reversible in nature and it was completely active until 5% concentration. There was no systemic toxic effect following the administration of the active fraction. This study, for the first time, proposes an active fraction from neem seeds, responsible for long term and reversible blocking of fertility after a single intrauterine administration with high efficacy.