Artocarpus communis: A Versatile Plant with Edible Fruit and Medicinal Properties
Artocarpus communis, also known as breadfruit, is a species of flowering tree in the mulberry and jackfruit family (Moraceae) that originated in New Guinea, the Maluku Islands, and the Philippines. It was spread to other tropical regions of the world by Austronesian sailors and later by European colonizers. It is widely cultivated for its starchy fruit, which can be eaten ripe or cooked like a vegetable. The fruit has a texture similar to freshly baked bread and a potato-like flavor.
Besides being a staple food in many cultures, Artocarpus communis also has various bioactivities, such as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer, antifungal, immunomodulatory, antidiabetic, and antibacterial effects. These effects are attributed to the phenolic compounds present in different parts of the plant, such as flavonoids, stilbenoids, arylbenzofurons, and jacalin. Some of the reported pharmacological activities of Artocarpus communis are:
- Anti-inflammatory: The ethanolic extract of Artocarpus communis leaves showed significant inhibition of carrageenan-induced paw edema and cotton pellet-induced granuloma formation in rats. The extract also reduced the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and enzymes in serum and tissue samples.
- Antioxidant: The methanolic extract of Artocarpus communis bark exhibited strong scavenging activity against DPPH (2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl) and ABTS (2,2′-azino-bis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulphonic acid)) radicals. The extract also protected human erythrocytes from oxidative hemolysis induced by AAPH (2,2′-azobis(2-amidinopropane) dihydrochloride).
- Anticancer: The ethyl acetate fraction of Artocarpus communis stem bark showed cytotoxic activity against human breast cancer (MCF-7), lung cancer (A549), and colon cancer (HT-29) cell lines. The fraction induced autophagic cell death rather than apoptotic cell death by activating AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase) and inhibiting mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) pathways.
- Antifungal: The methanolic extract of Artocarpus communis leaves exhibited antifungal activity against Candida albicans, Aspergillus niger, and Trichophyton mentagrophytes. The extract also inhibited the formation of biofilm by C. albicans and reduced its adherence to human buccal epithelial cells.
- Immunomodulatory: The aqueous extract of Artocarpus communis fruit pulp enhanced the phagocytic activity of macrophages and increased the production of nitric oxide and cytokines in vitro. The extract also stimulated the proliferation and differentiation of B lymphocytes and increased the production of immunoglobulins in vivo.
- Antidiabetic: The aqueous extract of Artocarpus communis fruit pulp lowered the blood glucose level and improved the glucose tolerance in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. The extract also reduced the serum levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and increased the level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
- Antibacterial: The methanolic extract of Artocarpus communis leaves showed antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Bacillus subtilis. The extract also inhibited the growth of Helicobacter pylori, a causative agent of gastric ulcers and gastritis.
In conclusion, Artocarpus communis is a versatile plant that offers economic value as a source of edible fruit, timber, and folk medicine. It also possesses various pharmacological activities that could be exploited for the development of new drugs or nutraceutical