Protective effect of Spirulina against 4-nitroquinoline-1-oxide induced toxicity

Mol Biol Rep. 2011 Jan;38(1):309-17. doi: 10.1007/s11033-010-0109-z. Epub 2010 Mar 30.


In the present study, we focused on the protective effect of Spirulina against 4-nitroquinoline-1-oxide (4NQO) induced hepato and nephrotoxicity in the experimental rats. The 4NQO administration resulted in increased levels of hepatic and renal markers [Alanine Transaminase (ALT), Aspartate Transaminase (AST), Lactate Dehydrogenase (LDH), urea, creatinine and uric acid] in the serum of experimental animals. It also increased the oxidative stress resulting in increased levels of the lipid peroxidation with a concomitant decline in the levels of non enzymic [reduced glutathione (GSH)] and enzymic antioxidants [(Superoxide dismutase (SOD), Catalase (CAT), Glutathione peroxidase (GPx), and Glutathione-S-transferase (GST)] in both liver and kidney. Oral pretreatment with aqueous extract of Spirulina prevented 4NQO induced changes in the levels of hepatic and kidney diagnostic marker enzymes in the serum of experimental rats. It counteracted the 4NQO induced lipid peroxidation and maintained the hepatic and kidney antioxidant defense system at near normal in both liver and kidney. The antioxidant responsiveness mediated by Spirulina may be anticipated to have biological significance in eliminating reactive free radicals that may otherwise affect normal cell functioning and provide a scientific rationale for the use of Spirulina.

MeSH terms

  • 4-Nitroquinoline-1-oxide / toxicity*
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Catalase / metabolism
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Glutathione Transferase / metabolism
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Kidney / enzymology
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Liver / pathology
  • Male
  • Protective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Spirulina / chemistry*
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism
  • Thiobarbituric Acid Reactive Substances / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • Protective Agents
  • Thiobarbituric Acid Reactive Substances
  • 4-Nitroquinoline-1-oxide
  • Catalase
  • Glutathione Peroxidase
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Glutathione Transferase
  • Glutathione