Hydroalcoholic extract of Haematoxylum brasiletto protects Caenorhabditis elegans from cadmium-induced toxicity

BMC Complement Med Ther. 2022 Jul 11;22(1):184. doi: 10.1186/s12906-022-03654-6.


Background: H. brasiletto is used in popular culture due to its therapeutic properties, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiproliferative properties, although little is known about its role as a protector against metal toxicity. This study aimed to investigate the chemical composition and efficacy of the hydroalcoholic extract from H. brasiletto (HAE-Hbrasiletto) collected in northern Colombia to defend against cadmium (Cd)-induced toxicity.

Methods: Phytochemical characterization was performed using HPLC-ESI-QTOF. Caenorhabditis elegans was employed to assess the shielding effect of HAE-Hbrasiletto against Cd toxicity in vivo, and the 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) assay was utilized to measure radical scavenging activity.

Results: The main secondary metabolites identified by HPLC-ESI-QTOF in the extracts were hematoxylins (brazilein and hematein) and protosappanins (protosappanin A, B and C, 10-O-methylprotosappanin B, and protosappanin A dimethyl acetal). The HAE-Hbrasiletto elicited low lethality in N2 worms and significantly reduced the Cd-induced death of the nematodes. It also improved Cd-induced motility inhibition, as well as body length and reproduction reduction provoked by the heavy metal. The extract displayed a good capacity to halt Cd-induced DAF-16 translocation. As this last process was associated with lethality (r = 0.962, p < 0.01), the antioxidant properties of the extract may contribute to ameliorating tissue damage induced by oxidative stress from Cd exposure.

Conclusion: HAE-Hbrasiletto has remarkable properties to protect against Cd-induced toxicity.

Keywords: Biodiversity; Daf-16; Fabaceae; Nematode; Oxidative stress.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants* / chemistry
  • Antioxidants* / pharmacology
  • Cadmium* / toxicity
  • Caenorhabditis elegans* / drug effects
  • Fabaceae / chemistry
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Plant Extracts* / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts* / pharmacology


  • Antioxidants
  • Plant Extracts
  • Cadmium