Protective effect of Opuntia ficus indica f. inermis prickly pear juice upon ethanol-induced damages in rat erythrocytes

Alcohol. 2012 May;46(3):235-43. doi: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2011.09.024. Epub 2012 Mar 24.


Juice from the fruit of the cactus Opuntia ficus indica is claimed to possess several health-beneficial properties. The present study was carried out to determine whether O. ficus indica f. inermis fruit extract might have a protective effect upon physiological and morphological damages inflicted to erythrocytes membrane by chronic ethanol poisoning, per os, in rat. Chemical analysis of the extract revealed the presence of polyphenols, flavonoids, ascorbic acid, carotenoids, and betalains. Ethanol administration (3 g/kg b.w, per day for 90 days) induced an increase of malondialdehyde (MDA) and carbonylated proteins levels and a decrease of glutathione (GSH) level in erythrocyte. Ethanol administration also reduced the scavenging activity in plasma and enhanced erythrocytes hemolysis, as compared to control rats. In addition, ethanol intake increased the erythrocyte shape index by +895.5% and decreased the erythrocyte diameter by -61.53% as compared to controls. In animals also given prickly pear juice during the same experimental period, the studied parameters were much less shifted. This protective effect was found to be dose-dependent. It is likely that the beneficial effect of the extract is due to the high content of antioxidant compounds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Erythrocyte Membrane / drug effects
  • Erythrocytes / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Malondialdehyde / analysis
  • Opuntia / chemistry*
  • Osmotic Fragility / drug effects
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Antioxidants
  • Plant Extracts
  • Malondialdehyde