The effects of steroidal sapogenin extract from bitter yam or commercial diosgenin on liver enzyme changes were investigated. Diabetic male Wistar rats were fed diets supplemented with 1% steroidal sapogenin extract or commercial diosgenin for three weeks. Plasma glucose levels and the activities of hepatic glucose-6-phosphatase, pyruvate kinase and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase were assessed. Liver total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol and total phospholipid were also measured. Plasma glucose decreased significantly (p < 0.05) in diabetic rats fed the three test diets compared to the diabetic control. The three test diets significantly decreased glucose-6-phosphatase activity compared to the diabetic control. The activities of ATP-citrate lyase, pyruvate kinase and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase were significantly reduced in the liver of diabetic rats compared to normal control.
Supplementation of the diet with bitter yam steroidal sapogenin extract or commercial diosgenin did not significantly alter ATP citrate lyase and pyruvate kinase activities but significantly increased glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase activity in the liver compared to diabetic rats. This study shows that the feeding of the two test diets to diabetic rats results in alterations in the metabolism of glucose with subsequent reduction in plasma glucose concentration.