Objective: This study evaluated the ability of 0.8% neem leaf extract (NLE) to treat diabetes mellitus by assessing its effects on blood glucose, insulin levels and islet morphology in streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic Sprague-Dawley rats.
Methods: Diabetes was induced in two to three-day old rat pups by STZ intraperitoneally (60 mg/kg), followed by a further 40 mg/kg dose 12–23 weeks later. The diabetic treated (DT) rats received 0.8% w/v NLE in tap water while diabetic control (DC) and normal control (NC) rats received water ad libitum. Body weight, water and chow consumption, and blood glucose were evaluated weekly. Blood and pancreas were collected at the end of the study to evaluate serum insulin and islet histology, respectively.
Results: Neem leaf extract (0.8%) improved weight gain and β-cell regeneration but did not reduce blood glucose. Serum insulin increased slightly in the treated group and three-fold in the DC group (p < 0.05).
Conclusion: The results suggest that NLE has beta cell regenerating potential.