Immunomodulatory and antioxidant effects of saffron aqueous extract (Crocus sativus L.) on streptozotocin-induced diabetes in rats

Indian Heart J. Mar-Apr 2017;69(2):151-159. doi: 10.1016/j.ihj.2016.09.008. Epub 2016 Sep 25.


Introduction: Crocus sativus L. (saffron) has many biological effects such as antioxidant property. The present study investigated the immunomodulatory effects of the aqueous saffron extract on streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic rats.

Materials and methods: In this study, the rats were divided into the following groups of 9 animals each: control, untreated diabetic, three saffron extract-treated diabetic groups. Diabetes was induced by STZ in rats. Saffron was administered 3 days after STZ administration; these injections were continued to the end of the study (4 weeks). At the end of the 4-week period, blood was drawn for biochemical assays and the abdominal aorta was removed for detecting the inflammatory cytokines expression.

Results: We found that saffron decreased blood glucose, malondialdehyde, nitric oxide, total lipids, triglycerides, cholesterol levels significantly (p<0.01) and increased glutathione level, catalase, and superoxide dismutase activities in the saffron-treated diabetic groups compared with the untreated groups, in a dose dependent manner (p<0.05, p<0.01, p<0.001). On the other hand, saffron-treated diabetic rats inhibited the expression of inflammatory cytokines in the abdominal aorta versus the untreated diabetic rats.

Conclusion: Our results validate the use of saffron as a treatment against diabetes mellitus and its vascular complications.

Keywords: Antioxidant; Aorta; Diabetes mellitus; Free radical; IL-6; Lipid profile; Oxidant; Saffron; TNF-α.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Crocus*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / immunology
  • Immunomodulation*
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Male
  • Oxidants / blood*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / blood*


  • Antioxidants
  • Blood Glucose
  • Lipids
  • Oxidants
  • Plant Extracts
  • Reactive Oxygen Species