Khat chewing is a recreational habit known to pose major socio-economic and medical problems in countries of Southern Arabia and the Horn of Africa. Among other adverse health effects, khat chewing has been associated with an increased risk of myocardial infarction (MI) in heavy consumers. This study was carried out to examine the direct effects of Catha edulis extract on contractility of spontaneously contracting, isolated rabbit heart and to investigate its mechanism of action. Isolated six rabbit's hearts attached to a Langendorff apparatus were perfused with extract at a constant flow rate and continuously bubbled with a 95% O 2/5% CO 2 gas mixture. Each heart served as its own control, as responses were recorded before and after administration of C. edulis extract. Varying concentrations of extract (50, 100 and 250mg/ml) were loaded in the perfusate, their effects recorded and effluent fluid collected for assay of cardiac enzymes. Histological examination of the cardiac tissue was performed at the end of perfusion with 250mg/ml extract. This study revealed that acute exposure to C. edulis extract exerted negative inotropic and chronotropic effects on isolated hearts. The extract also had a vasoconstrictor effect on coronary vessels, independent of α 1 adrenergic receptor stimulation. Histological examination of hearts perfused with 250mg/ml C. edulis extract revealed the presence of histological changes unique to myocardial infarction, a finding consistent with observed increased levels of cardiac enzymes in perfusates. Thus, we have demonstrated experimentally a direct cardiac depressant- and MI inducing effects of C. edulis extract. These results are consistent with the earlier reported deleterious effects of khat on cardiovascular function among khat chewers.
- Catha edulis
- Myocardial infarction
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)