Hibiscus protocatechuic acid inhibits lipopolysaccharide-induced rat hepatic damage

Arch Toxicol. 2003 Jan;77(1):42-7. doi: 10.1007/s00204-002-0404-0. Epub 2002 Nov 12.


Hibiscus protocatechuic acid (PCA), a phenolic compound found in the dried flowers of Hibiscus sabdariffa L. (Malvaceae), was demonstrated to have an antioxidant effect in vitro and in vivo, and an antitumor property in our previous study. In the present study, we used lipopolysaccharide (LPS, an endotoxin) to induce rat liver inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), and found that pretreatment with PCA decreased the liver iNOS and the serum total nitrite induced by LPS. Our investigation showed that pretreatment of rats with PCA (0.2 and 0.5 mmol/kg dosed by gavage) for 5 days significantly decreased the serum levels of the hepatic enzyme markers alanine- and aspartate aminotransferase (ALT, alanine aminotransferase; AST, aspartate aminotransferase) induced by the 6-h treatment with LPS (i.p.; 5 mg/kg). Histopathological evaluation of the rat livers revealed that PCA reduced the incidence of liver lesions induced by LPS, including neutrophil infiltration, congestion, and liver cell swelling induced by LPS in rats. We conclude that PCA, an antioxidant, presents an inhibitory potential on iNOS and hepatic damage induced by LPS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Animals
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases / blood
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / blood
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / pathology
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / prevention & control*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal*
  • Escherichia coli / immunology
  • Hibiscus / chemistry*
  • Hydroxybenzoates / administration & dosage
  • Hydroxybenzoates / therapeutic use*
  • Lipopolysaccharides / pharmacology
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Liver / pathology
  • Male
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / biosynthesis
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Hydroxybenzoates
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • protocatechuic acid
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • Nos2 protein, rat
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases
  • Alanine Transaminase