In vitro and in vivo antioxidant activity of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) on carbon tetrachloride intoxicated rats

Am J Chin Med. 2012;40(4):779-93. doi: 10.1142/S0192415X12500589.


The present study was conducted to determine whether lyophilized aqueous extract of alfalfa, or Medicago sativa L. could exert antioxidant activity against carbon tetrachloride-induced oxidative stress and liver injury in rats. The hepatoprotective activity of alfalfa extract was determined by assessing the levels of serum transaminases, ALP, bilirubin and lipid profile. Further, the effect of the test substance on malondialdehyde (MDA), an end product of lipid peroxidation; antioxidant liver enzyme non-protein sulfhydryl (NP-SH); and total protein (TP) were also studied. Serum transaminase, ALP, bilirubin level, lipid profile and liver MDA were significantly elevated and the antioxidant status in liver NP-SH and TP contents were declined in animals treated with CCl (4) alone. Pretreatment with alfalfa and silymarin for three weeks prior to the administration of CCl (4) significantly prevented the increase in the serum levels of hepatic marker, LDL, VLDL levels enzymes and reduced oxidative stress indicated by elevated NP-SH and TP concentration. The histopathological examination of the livers also showed that the alfalfa extract reduced the incidence of liver lesions induced by CCl (4). The in vitro antioxidant assessment of alfalfa extract on DPPH and carotene-linoleic assays demonstrated a moderate antioxidant potential. Results suggest that the alfalfa extract possesses hepatoprotective and antioxidative stress properties possibly through its antioxidant phytochemical constituents and substantiates its use in various liver disorders as a hepatoprotector.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Carbon Tetrachloride Poisoning / drug therapy*
  • Carbon Tetrachloride Poisoning / metabolism
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Lipid Peroxidation
  • Lipids / blood
  • Male
  • Malondialdehyde / metabolism
  • Medicago sativa / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Silymarin / pharmacology
  • Silymarin / therapeutic use


  • Antioxidants
  • Lipids
  • Plant Extracts
  • Silymarin
  • Malondialdehyde