Bioactive compounds, antioxidant potential, and hepatoprotective activity of sea cucumber (Holothuria atra) against thioacetamide intoxication in rats

Nutrition. 2013 Jan;29(1):258-67. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2012.06.004. Epub 2012 Oct 22.


Objective: The identification of the active phenolic compounds in the mixed extract of sea cucumber (Holothuria atra) body wall by high-performance liquid chromatography and an assessment of its hepatoprotective activity against thioacetamide-induced liver fibrosis in rats.

Methods: Female Swiss albino rats were divided into four groups: normal controls; oral administration of a sea cucumber mixed extract (14.4 mg/kg of body weight) on days 2, 4, and 6 weekly for 8 consecutive weeks; intoxication with thioacetamide (200 mg/kg of body weight, intraperitoneally) on days 2 and 6 weekly for 8 wk; and oral administration of a sea cucumber extract and then intoxication with thioacetamide 2 h later for 8 wk.

Results: High-performance liquid chromatographic analysis of the sea cucumber mixed extract revealed the presence of some phenolic components, such as chlorogenic acid, pyrogallol, rutin, coumaric acid, catechin, and ascorbic acid. In vitro studies have shown that the extract has a high scavenging activity for the nitric oxide radical, a moderate iron-chelating activity, and a weak inhibitory effect of lipid peroxidation. The subchronic oral administration of sea cucumber extract to the rats did not show any toxic side effects but increased hepatic superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase activities. The coadministration of sea cucumber extract and thioacetamide (protection modality) normalized serum direct bilirubin, alanine and aspartate aminotransferases, hepatic malondialdehyde, and hydroxyproline concentrations and antioxidant enzyme activities. In addition, the histologic examination of liver sections from the protection group that were stained with hematoxylin and eosin showed substantial attenuation of the degenerative cellular changes and regressions in liver fibrosis and necrosis induced by the thioacetamide intoxication.

Conclusion: Sea cucumber mixed extract contains physiologically active phenolic compounds with antioxidant activity, which afforded a potential hepatoprotective activity against thioacetamide-induced liver injury in a rat model.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / isolation & purification*
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Holothuria / chemistry*
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / physiopathology
  • Liver Cirrhosis / chemically induced
  • Liver Cirrhosis / metabolism
  • Liver Cirrhosis / prevention & control
  • Phenols / isolation & purification
  • Phenols / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism
  • Thioacetamide / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Thioacetamide / toxicity


  • Antioxidants
  • Phenols
  • Thioacetamide
  • Glutathione Peroxidase
  • Superoxide Dismutase