Protective effect of Hibiscus anthocyanins against tert-butyl hydroperoxide-induced hepatic toxicity in rats

Food Chem Toxicol. 2000 May;38(5):411-6. doi: 10.1016/s0278-6915(00)00011-9.


Hibiscus anthocyanins (HAs), a group of natural pigments occurring in the dried flowers of Hibiscus sabdariffa L., which is a local soft drink material and medical herb, were studied for antioxidant bioactivity. The preliminary study showed that HAs were able to quench the free radicals of 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl. This antioxidant bioactivitiy was further evaluated using the model of tert-butyl hydroperoxide (t-BHP)-induced cytotoxicity in rat primary hepatocytes and hepatotoxicity in rats. The results demonstrated that HAs, at the concentrations of 0.10 and 0.20 mg/ml, significantly decreased the leakage of lactate dehydrogenase and the formation of malondialdehyde induced by a 30-min treatment of t-BHP (1.5 mM). The in vivo investigation showed that the oral pretreatment of HAs (100 and 200 mg/kg) for 5 days before a single dose of t-BHP (0.2 mmol/kg, ip) significantly lowered the serum levels of hepatic enzyme markers (alanine and aspartate aminotransferase) and reduced oxidative liver damage. The histopathological evaluation of the liver revealed that Hibiscus pigments reduced the incidence of liver lesions including inflammatory, leucocyte infiltration, and necrosis induced by t-BHP in rats. Based on the results described above, we speculate that Hibiscus pigments may play a role in the prevention of oxidative damage in living systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alanine Transaminase / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Anthocyanins / pharmacology*
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases / metabolism
  • Carcinogens / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Carcinogens / toxicity
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / enzymology
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / pathology
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / prevention & control*
  • Free Radicals
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Function Tests
  • Male
  • Malvaceae / chemistry*
  • Quinones / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Quinones / toxicity
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Tetrazolium Salts
  • Thiazoles


  • Anthocyanins
  • Carcinogens
  • Free Radicals
  • Quinones
  • Tetrazolium Salts
  • Thiazoles
  • 2,6-di-tert-butyl-4-hydroperoxy-4-methyl-2,5-cyclohexadienone
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases
  • Alanine Transaminase
  • thiazolyl blue
  • Glutathione