Opuntia ficus indica (L.) Mill. fruit juice protects liver from carbon tetrachloride-induced injury

Phytother Res. 2005 Sep;19(9):796-800. doi: 10.1002/ptr.1741.


The protective effects of the juice of Opuntia ficus indica fruit (prickly pear) against carbon tetrachloride (CCl(4))-induced hepatotoxicity were examined in rats. The animals were treated orally with the juice (3 mL/rat) 2 h after administration of the hepatotoxic agent. Preventive effects were studied by giving the juice (3 mL/rat) for 9 consecutive days. On day 9 the rats received the hepatotoxic agent. Morphological and biochemical evaluations were carried out 24, 48 and 72 h after induction of the hepatic damage. Data show that O. ficus indica fruit juice administration exerts protective and curative effects against the CCl(4)-induced degenerative process in rat liver. Histology evaluation revealed a normal hepatic parenchyma at 48 h; the injury was fully restored after 72 h. Moreover, a significant reduction in CCl(4)-induced increase of GOT and GPT plasma levels is evident; these data are in agreement with the functional improvement of hepatocytes. O. ficus indica fruit juice contains many phenol compounds, ascorbic acid, betalains, betacyanins, and a flavonoid fraction, which consists mainly of rutin and isorhamnetin derivatives. Hepatoprotection may be related to the flavonoid fraction of the juice, but other compounds, such as vitamin C and betalains could, synergistically, counteract many degenerative processes by means of their antioxidant activity.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carbon Tetrachloride
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / blood
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / etiology
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / pathology
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / prevention & control
  • Fruit
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Male
  • Opuntia*
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Protective Agents / administration & dosage
  • Protective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Protective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Protective Agents
  • Carbon Tetrachloride