Protective effect of standardized extract of Myrtus communis L. (myrtle) on experimentally bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis: biochemical and histopathological study

Drug Chem Toxicol. 2018 Oct;41(4):408-414. doi: 10.1080/01480545.2018.1459670. Epub 2018 May 11.


Context: Myrtle (Myrtus communis L) has been used widely in traditional medicine for different respiratory disorders. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is an inflammatory disease characterized by progressive loss of lung function with poor prognosis. The pathogenesis of disease has not been completely elucidated, but probably persistent epithelial damages are involved.

Objective: Evaluation of biochemical and histopathological effect of preventive and therapeutic doses of myrtle against bleomycin (BLM)-induced pulmonary fibrosis (PF) in animal model.

Materials and methods: Methanolic extract of M. communis was prepared by maceration method. Total flavonoid content was determined and experimentally PF was induced in rat with intratracheal instillation of a single dose of BLM (5 mg/kg) only on day 0. Myrtle antifibrotic effect was evaluated as preventive (50 mg/kg/day, intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection, from day 0-13) and therapeutic agent (50 mg/kg, i.p., from day 14-27) in comparison with methyl prednisolone (M-pred) (4 mg/kg, i.p. for 14 days).

Results: Parenchymal inflammation and fibrotic changes significantly were reduced by myrtle and M-pred. Significant decrease in hydroxyproline content and lipid peroxidation were observed in animals receiving myrtle extract while catalase activity was increased by myrtle. Improvement in inflammation and fibrosis was observed in myrtle group especially in the early phase of fibrosis (preventive regime).

Discussion and conclusion: Myrtle extract effectively inhibited the inflammation and fibrosis of lung parenchyma in both preventive and therapeutic methods. This effect might be due to the reduction of tissue inflammation and inhibition of oxidative stress. More studies are being carried out to find main mechanisms and separation of active compounds.

Keywords: Antifibrotic; bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis; myrtle extract.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bleomycin / toxicity*
  • Flavonoids / analysis
  • Male
  • Myrtus*
  • Oils, Volatile / analysis
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Plant Extracts / analysis
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / chemically induced
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / metabolism
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / pathology
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / prevention & control*
  • Rats


  • Flavonoids
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Extracts
  • Bleomycin