Chemo-preventive effect of Star anise in N-nitrosodiethylamine initiated and phenobarbital promoted hepato-carcinogenesis

Chem Biol Interact. 2007 Sep 20;169(3):207-14. doi: 10.1016/j.cbi.2007.06.032. Epub 2007 Jun 17.


The generation of free radicals is a cause of many pathological conditions like diabetes mellitus, cancer, stroke, etc. Free radicals cause damage to cellular DNA and initiate carcinogenesis. Free radicals also bring about proliferation of cells via cell signaling. An inverse relationship between the consumption of vegetable diets and the risk of cancer has been established. In the present study, Star anise (Illicium verum), which is a commonly used condiment in Indian cuisine, was assessed for its anti-carcinogenic potential in N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA) initiated and phenobarbital (PB) promoted hepato-carcinogenesis. Rats were randomly selected for eight experimental groups. The carcinogenesis was induced by injecting the rats, with a single dose of NDEA (200mg/kg body weight) intraperitoneally as initiator, followed by promotion with PB (0.05%) in drinking water for 14 consecutive weeks. The treatment with NDEA increased liver weight, while Star anise (Star) treatment reduced the liver weight of rats. The treatment with Star throughout for 20 weeks or during the promotion stage (6-20 weeks) significantly reduced the nodule incidence and nodule multiplicity in the rats, while the treatment with Star at the initiation phase (first 4 weeks) only could not reduce these parameters. The treatment with Star for 20 consecutive weeks significantly reduced the nodule size and nodule volume. The treatment with Star throughout as well as at the promotion stage lowered the lipid peroxidation (LPO) in liver and erythrocytes, while the LPO was not lowered, when Star was administered during initiation stage only. The treatment with Star restored the liver and erythrocyte super-oxide dismutase (SOD) activities to normal in the carcinogenesis-induced rats. The liver catalase (CAT) activity increased in all the treated groups. The erythrocyte CAT activity increased in the rats treated with Star during initiation and promotion stage only. The liver glutathione (GSH) level increased significantly in the groups treated with Star. The erythrocyte GSH level was lowered in the rats treated with NDEA and PB, however, Star treatment helped in increasing the erythrocyte GSH level to some extent. The liver and erythrocyte glutathione-S-transferase (GST) activity increased in all the groups treated with NDEA and PB. The treatment with Star decreased GST level significantly. These results indicate that the treatment with Star reduces the tumor burden, lowers oxidative stress and increases the level of phase II enzymes, which may contribute to its anti-carcinogenic potential.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / drug effects*
  • Diethylnitrosamine / toxicity*
  • Erythrocytes / drug effects
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Glutathione Transferase / metabolism
  • Illicium / chemistry*
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / chemically induced
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / pathology
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Phenobarbital / toxicity*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Antioxidants
  • Plant Extracts
  • Diethylnitrosamine
  • Glutathione Transferase
  • Glutathione
  • Phenobarbital