Background: The protective effect of the common mallow (Malva sylvestris) decoction on renal damages in rats induced by ammonium metavanadate poisoning was evaluated. On the one hand, vanadium toxicity is associated to the production of reactive oxygen species, causing a lipid peroxidation and an alteration in the enzymatic antioxidant defence. On the other hand, many medicinal plants are known to possess antioxidant and radical scavenging properties, thanks to the presence of flavonoids. These properties were confirmed in Malva sylvestris by two separate methods; namely, the Diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl assay and the Nitroblue Tetrazolium reduction assay.
Results: In 80 rats exposed to ammonium metavanadate (0.24 mmol/kg body weight in drinking water) for 90 days, lipid peroxidation levels and superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase activities were measured in kidney. A significant increase in the formation of free radicals and antioxidant enzyme activities was noticed. In addition, a histological examination of kidney revealed a structural deterioration of the renal cortical capsules and a shrinking of the Bowman space. In animals intoxicated by metavanadate but also given a Malva sylvestris decoction (0.2 g dry mallow/kg body weight), no such pathologic features were observed: lipid peroxidation levels, antioxidant enzyme activities and histological features appeared normal as compared to control rats.
Conclusion: Malva sylvestris is proved to have a high antioxidative potential thanks to its richness in phenolic compounds.