Objective: Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and venoconstrictor properties have been attributed to extracts from Aesculus hippocastanum. These unusual and diverse properties may be possibly basically linked with ability to scavenge free radicals.
Materials and methods: The scavenging capacity of dry horse chestnut extract of and escin have been investigated in vitro against superoxide anion radicals, hydroxyl radicals, nitrites and peroxynitrite.
Results: In general, the activity of the whole extract against superoxide radicals did not exceed 15% at pH 7.4, but the highest inhibition (46.11%) was recorded against hydroxyl radicals at a concentration of 100 µg.ml-1; however, the activity against other radicals was lower. Escin demonstrated a better ability to counteract nitric oxide oxidation products, nitrites. However, the efficiency of the whole extract completely disappeared as the concentration increased. Both extracts showed very low activity towards peroxynitrite. Escin was even able to induce peroxynitrite formation at the lower concentrations used.
Conclusions: Whole extract showed better antiradical properties compared to its main active ingredient, escin, probably due to potential synergistic interaction with a mixture of compounds present in the plant extract. These findings can be the basis of both the presentation of side-effects and the persistence of disease in spite of ongoing treatment.