Context: Artichoke, Cynara scolymus L. (Asteraceae), has many natural antioxidants and multiple pharmacological actions. Recent studies have shown that it has antitoxic activity.
Objective: Lead (Pb) is a dangerous environmental toxicant that induces a broad range of dysfunctions in human. This study evaluated the protective effect of the hydroethanolic extract of artichoke against altered biochemical parameters in rats fed with lead-containing diet.
Materials and methods: Thirty-two rats were randomly divided into four groups. The first (control) group received standard diet. The second, third and fourth groups received 500 mg lead/kg diet, 500 mg lead/kg diet plus 300 mg/kg b.w. artichoke extract daily, and 500 mg lead/kg diet plus 1 mg vitamin C/100 g b.w. daily for 6 weeks, respectively. Serum lead, lipoprotein profile, ALT (alanine transaminase), AST (aspartate transaminase), ALP (alkaline phosphatase), malondialdehyde (MDA) and liver histopathology assessments were conducted.
Results: Serum lead, triglyceride (TG), VLDL, ALT, AST, ALP and MDA levels decreased significantly (p < 0.05) in the artichoke-treated group (35.85, 38.26, 38.38, 21.90, 12.81, 26.86 and 46.91%, respectively) compared to lead-intoxicated rats without treatment. No significant change was observed in serum lead, ALP and ALT between artichoke and vitamin C-treated groups (p > 0.05). Furthermore, the liver histopathology in rats treated with artichoke showed a mild degree of lymphocyte infiltration that was relatively comparable to the control and vitamin C-treated groups.
Discussion and conclusion: These results clearly show that the artichoke extract in lead-poisoned rats has suitable chelating properties for the reduction of blood lead levels.