Background: This study investigated changes in pancreatic beta cell function (HOMA-β), liver function markers (ALT/AST ratio), hepatic insulin resistance index (HOMA-IR) and microstructural features of pancreatic and hepatic tissues of Plasmodium berghei malarial infected mice treated with Phyllanthus amarus. This is to ascertain if the amount of insulin secreted by pancreatic β-cells has any influence on hepatic insulin resistance and glucose homeostasis.

Materials and Methods: Forty-five (45) adult Swiss albino mice with weight between 20-28g were randomly distributed into nine (9) groups (n=5/group) and used for this study. Each group was treated with grade doses (100, 200, 300mg/kg body weight) of P.amarus and chloroquine (5mg/ kg body weight)  for 7days and then sacrificed. Thereafter, blood and tissue (pancreas and liver) specimens were obtained and respectively prepared for biochemical assay and histopathological examination using documented methods.

Results: Results indicate that Plasmodium berghei malarial parasite infection reduced beta cell function but increased hepatic insulin resistance with a measure of cellular damage as evidenced by the values of biomarkers (ALT: AST ratio) and microstructural alterations. However, treatment with 100mg/kg/d, 200mg/kg/d and 300mg/kg/d of P.amarus ethanol leaf extract for 7days ameliorated the P.berghei induced conditions and restored hepatic and pancreatic compromised integrity. However, chloroquine (5mg/kg/d) treatment could not protect these tissues from oxidative assault. P. amarus ethanol leaf extract offers protection to the pancreas and liver from plasmodium berghei malarial-induced damage. Therefore, the mechanism of tonic potential of P.amarus and the invigorating phytochemicals must be identified for possible therapeutic application.

Conclusion: The results obtained from this study showed that P. amarus was able to restore pancreatic beta cell function and decreased hepatic insulin resistance associated with Plasmodium berghei malarial infection in experimental mice. These observed abilities could be due to the biological activities of its active phytochemicals. P. amarus chemicals should therefore be purified for further studies.

Keywords: Phyllanthus amarus, Plasmodium berghei, Insulin, Infection, Mice, β-cell