Anthocyanin-rich extract from Hibiscus sabdariffa calyx counteracts UVC-caused impairments in rats

Pharm Biol. 2015;53(10):1435-41. doi: 10.3109/13880209.2014.980586. Epub 2015 Mar 18.


Context: Ultraviolet radiation (UV) was reported to cause oxidative stress. Hibiscus sabdariffa L. (Malvaceae) calyx is commonly used in traditional Asian and African medicines and possesses strong antioxidant capacity due to its anthocyanin (ANTH) content.

Objective: This study researched the possible protective role of Hibiscus sabdariffa calyx extract (HSCE) in UVC exposure of rats.

Material and methods: Levels of serum enzymes, renal function tests, and some oxidant/antioxidant biomarkers of skin, lens, and retina tissues were monitored. Rats were exposed to UVC 4 h daily for 40 d and simultaneously received HSCE containing 2.5, 5, and 10 mg doses of ANTH in drinking water.

Results: Significant (p < 0.05) increases in the levels of serum aminotransferases, lactate dehydrogenase, urea, creatinine, and uric acid were noted after UVC exposure. In skin, lens, and retina tissues, total oxidant status, oxidative stress index, lipid peroxidation, and protein oxidation escalated markedly (p < 0.05) whereas total antioxidant status, reduced glutathione, and superoxide dismutase decreased dramatically (p < 0.05) related to UVC. Co-administration of HSCE with each ANTH dose significantly (p < 0.05) reversed aforementioned parameters (except total oxidant status) almost in all tissues. The LD50 of HSCE in rats was determined to be above 5000 mg/kg.

Discussion and conclusion: Our data revealed that HSCE has a remarkable potential to counteract UVC-caused impairments, probably through its antioxidant and free radical-defusing effects. Therefore, HSCE could be useful against some cutaneous and ocular diseases in which UV and oxidative stress have a role in the etiopathogenesis.

Keywords: Anthocyanins; lens; oxidative stress; photoaging; photocarcinogenesis; retina; skin; ultraviolet radiation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthocyanins / isolation & purification
  • Anthocyanins / pharmacology*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Flowers*
  • Hibiscus*
  • Male
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Oxidative Stress / radiation effects*
  • Plant Extracts / isolation & purification
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Retina / drug effects
  • Retina / radiation effects
  • Skin / drug effects
  • Skin / radiation effects
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects*


  • Anthocyanins
  • Biomarkers
  • Plant Extracts