Plantago major L. produces several chemical substances with anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities and its use in the treatment of oral and throat inflammation in popular medicine is well described. In this study, the antioxidant potential of the Plantago major hydroethanolic extract was screened and its protective action was evaluated against t-BOOH-induced oxidative stress. The extract was obtained by fractionated percolation using 50% ethanolic solution and, after drying, suspended in dimethyl sulfoxide. The chromatographic profile of crude extract was obtained with the identification of some phytochemical markers and the total phenols and flavonoids were quantified. The scavenger activity against DPPH (1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl) radicals was determined and the antioxidant activity in biological systems was evaluated in isolated rat liver mitochondria and HepG2 cells. The extract exhibited a significant free radical scavenger activity at 0.1 mg/mL, and decreased the ROS (reactive oxygen species) generation in succinate-energized mitochondria. Such an effect was associated with the preservation of the intrinsic antioxidant defenses (reduced glutathione and NAD(P)H) against the oxidation by t-BOOH, and also to the protection of membranes from lipid oxidation. The cytoprotective effect of PmHE against t-BOOH induced cell death was also shown. These findings contribute to the understanding of the health benefits attributed to P. major.
Keywords: antioxidant; folk medicine; free radicals; oxidative stress; plantain.