Background and aim: Free radicals are implicated in the aetiology of gastrointestinal disorders such as gastric ulcer, colorectal cancer and inflammatory bowel disease. Strawberries are common and important fruit due to their high content of essential nutrient and beneficial phytochemicals which seem to have relevant biological activity on human health. In the present study we investigated the antioxidant and protective effects of three strawberry extracts against ethanol-induced gastric mucosa damage in an experimental in vivo model and to test whether strawberry extracts affect antioxidant enzyme activities in gastric mucosa.
Methods/principal findings: Strawberry extracts were obtained from Adria, Sveva and Alba cultivars. Total antioxidant capacity and radical scavenging capacity were performed by TEAC, ORAC and electron paramagnetic resonance assays. Identification and quantification of anthocyanins was carried out by HPLC-DAD-MS analyses. Different groups of animals received 40 mg/day/kg body weight of strawberry crude extracts for 10 days. Gastric damage was induced by ethanol. The ulcer index was calculated together with the determination of catalase and SOD activities and MDA contents. Strawberry extracts are rich in anthocyanins and present important antioxidant capacity. Ethanol caused severe gastric damage and strawberry consumption protected against its deleterious role. Antioxidant enzyme activities increased significantly after strawberry extract intake and a concomitantly decrease in gastric lipid peroxidation was found. A significant correlation between total anthocyanin content and percent of inhibition of ulcer index was also found.
Conclusions: Strawberry extracts prevented exogenous ethanol-induced damage to rats' gastric mucosa. These effects seem to be associated with the antioxidant activity and phenolic content in the extract as well as with the capacity of promoting the action of antioxidant enzymes. A diet rich in strawberries might exert a beneficial effect in the prevention of gastric diseases related to generation of reactive oxygen species.