Estragole prevents gastric ulcers via cytoprotective, antioxidant and immunoregulatory mechanisms in animal models

Biomed Pharmacother. 2020 Oct;130:110578. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2020.110578. Epub 2020 Aug 1.


Background: Estragole is an aromatic organic compound belonging to the class of phenylpropanoids derived from cinnamic aldehydes and present in essential oils of plant species, such asRavensara anisata (madeira), Ocimum basilicum (manjericão/alfavaca) and Croton zehntneri (canelinha). Pharmacological studies report its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and vasorelaxant activity.

Hypothesis/purpose: This study aimed to evaluate the acute non-clinical toxicity, gastroprotective activity and the related mechanisms of action.

Methods: Acute toxicity was assessed according to OECD guide 423 in mice. Ethanol, stress, piroxicam and pylorus ligation-induced gastric ulcer models were used to investigate antiulcer properties. The related mechanisms of action were using the ethanol-gastric lesions protocol.

Results: In the acute oral toxicity assay, doses of 300 or 2000 mg/kg of estragole administered orally in Swiss mice did not induce any behavioral changes. However, the dose of 2000 mg/kg showed a decrease in water and feed intake. Lethal dose 50 % (LD50) was set to be equal to or greater than 2500 mg/kg, according to OECD. In all evaluated protocols, estragole (31.25, 62.5, 125 and 250 mg/kg) significantly reduced the area of ​​ulcerative lesion when compared to control groups. To investigate the mechanisms involved in the gastroprotective activity, the antisecretory or neutralizing of gastric secretion, cytoprotectant, antioxidant and immunoregulatory effects were evaluated. Results showed that treatment with estragole (250 mg/kg) reduced (p < 0.05) the volume of the gastric juice. Besides, sulfhydryl groups, nitric oxide, mucus and prostaglandins seems to be involved in the gastroprotective property. Treatment also increased (p < 0.001) levels of reduced glutathione (GSH), interleukin-10 (IL-10) and positive cells marked for glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2). It also reduced (p < 0.001) malondialdehyde (MDA), myeloperoxidase (MPO), interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) (p < 0.05) levels.

Conclusion: Thus, it is possible to infer that estragole presents gastroprotective activity related to antisecretory, cytoprotective, antioxidant and immunomodulatory mechanisms.

Keywords: Antioxidant; Cytoprotection; Estragole; Gastric ulcer; Gastroprotection; Immunoregulatory.

MeSH terms

  • Allylbenzene Derivatives
  • Animals
  • Anisoles / pharmacology
  • Anisoles / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Anti-Ulcer Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Ulcer Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Cytoprotection
  • Ethanol
  • Gastric Mucosa / cytology
  • Immunologic Factors / pharmacology
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Piroxicam
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Stomach / drug effects
  • Stomach / pathology
  • Stomach Ulcer / drug therapy*
  • Stomach Ulcer / etiology
  • Stomach Ulcer / immunology
  • Stomach Ulcer / pathology
  • Stress, Psychological


  • Allylbenzene Derivatives
  • Anisoles
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Anti-Ulcer Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Cytokines
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Piroxicam
  • Ethanol
  • estragole