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PLoS One. 2017 Jun 23;12(6):e0179785. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0179785. eCollection 2017.

Beneficial effects of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis L. flower aqueous extract in pregnant rats with diabetes.

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Laboratory of System Physiology and Reproductive Toxicology, Institute of Biological and Health Sciences, Federal University of Mato Grosso (UFMT), Barra do Garças, Mato Grosso State, Brazil.
Gynecology, Obstetrics and Mastology Graduate Course, Laboratory of Experimental Research on Gynecology and Obstetrics, Botucatu Medical School, Univ Estadual Paulista_Unesp, Botucatu, São Paulo State, Brazil.
Department of Parasitology, Institute of Biological Sciences, Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais State, Brazil.
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University CEU San Pablo, Madrid, Spain.



The Hibiscus rosa-sinensis flower is widely used in Brazilian traditional medicine for the treatment of diabetes and has shown antifertility activity in female Wistar rats. However, there is no scientific confirmation of its effect on diabetes and pregnancy. The aim of this study was evaluate the effect of aqueous extract of H. rosa-sinensis flowers on maternal-fetal outcome in pregnant rats with diabetes.


Diabetes was induced by streptozotocin (STZ, 40 mg/kg) in virgin, adult, female Wistar rats. After diabetes induction, the rats were mated. The pregnant rats were distributed into four groups (n minimum = 11 animals/group): non-diabetic, non-diabetic treated, diabetic, and diabetic treated. Oral aqueous extract of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis was administered to rats in the treatment groups during pregnancy. At term pregnancy, maternal reproductive outcomes, fetal parameters, and biochemical parameters were analyzed.


The non-diabetic treated group showed decreased high density lipoprotein cholesterol, increased atherogenic index (AI) and coronary artery risk index (CRI), and increased preimplantation loss rate compared to the non-diabetic group. Although treatment with H. rosa-sinensis led to no toxicity, it showed deleterious effects on cardiac and reproductive functions. However, the diabetic treated group showed increased maternal and fetal weights, reduced AI and CRI, and reduced preimplantation loss rate compared to the untreated diabetic group.


Our results demonstrate beneficial effects of this flower only in pregnant rats with diabetes and their offspring. Although these findings cannot be extrapolated to human clinical use, they show that the indiscriminate intake of H. rosa-sinensis may be harmful to healthy individuals and its use should be completely avoided in pregnancy.

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