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.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.