Anti-oxidative effects of Rooibos tea (Aspalathus linearis) on immobilization-induced oxidative stress in rat brain

PLoS One. 2014 Jan 21;9(1):e87061. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0087061. eCollection 2014.


Exposure to chronic psychological stress may be related to increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) or free radicals, and thus, long-term exposure to high levels of oxidative stress may cause the accumulation of oxidative damage and eventually lead to many neurodegenerative diseases. Compared with other organs, the brain appears especially susceptible to excessive oxidative stress due to its high demand for oxygen. In the case of excessive ROS production, endogenous defense mechanisms against ROS may not be sufficient to suppress ROS-associated oxidative damage. Dietary antioxidants have been shown to protect neurons against a variety of experimental neurodegenerative conditions. In particular, Rooibos tea might be a good source of antioxidants due to its larger proportion of polyphenolic compounds. An optimal animal model for stress should show the features of a stress response and should be able to mimic natural stress progression. However, most animal models of stress, such as cold-restraint, electric foot shock, and burn shock, usually involve physical abuse in addition to the psychological aspects of stress. Animals subjected to chronic restraint or immobilization are widely believed to be a convenient and reliable model to mimic psychological stress. Therefore, in the present study, we propose that immobilization-induced oxidative stress was significantly attenuated by treatment with Rooibos tea. This conclusion is demonstrated by Rooibos tea's ability to (i) reverse the increase in stress-related metabolites (5-HIAA and FFA), (ii) prevent lipid peroxidation (LPO), (iii) restore stress-induced protein degradation (PD), (iv) regulate glutathione metabolism (GSH and GSH/GSSG ratio), and (v) modulate changes in the activities of antioxidant enzymes (SOD and CAT).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Aspalathus*
  • Beverages*
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Hydroxyindoleacetic Acid / pharmacology
  • Immobilization / methods
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Models, Animal
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Tea*


  • Antioxidants
  • Plant Extracts
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Tea
  • Hydroxyindoleacetic Acid
  • Glutathione

Grant support

This study was supported by a grant (Project Code No., Z-1541745-2012-13-09) from Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.