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The remedial effect of Thymus vulgaris extract against lead toxicity-induced oxidative stress, hepatorenal damage, immunosuppression, and hematological disorders in rats

Abstract

The Thymus vulgaris (T. vulgaris) has been used in foods for the flavor, aroma, and preservation and in folk medicines. The objective of the present work was to determine the antioxidant and protective effects of T. vulgaris extract against lead (Pb)-intoxicated rats. A thirty-two male Sprague-Dawley were randomly assigned into 4 equal groups and treated for six weeks as follows: group I (GP-I), served as negative control; GP-II, -III, and -IV received either Pb acetate in drinking water (500 mg/L), T. vulgaris extract (500 mg/kg/day) by oral gavage or Pb acetate with T. vulgaris extract, respectively. Blood samples were collected at the end of the study week 6 to measure the hepatic and renal biochemical markers, complete blood count alongside the serum levels of interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, IL-10, tumor necrosis (TNF)-α, and interferon (IFN)-γ. Additionally, liver and kidney tissue specimens were collected for histopathology as well as to measure the antioxidant-reduced glutathione (GSH), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), catalase (CAT), and superoxide dismutase (SOD) alongside the lipid peroxidation marker, malonaldehyde (MDA). The results indicated that Pb toxicity increased the serum levels of IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α, whereas IL-10 and IFN-γ were reduced. The results showed disturbed liver and renal functions; increased serum levels of ALT, AST, ALP, total bilirubin, creatinine, and urea; and decreased total protein, albumin, and calcium. The GSH, Gpx, and CAT levels were significantly decreased in the Pb-administrated group, while MDA was increased. However, regarding the hepatorenal markers, those animals treated with T. vulgaris alone did not induce any significant changes. Moreover, the combined treatment with T. vulgaris extract together with Pb showed significant improvement in Pb-induced toxicity in all the tested parameters compared to the negative control group. We investigated the potential protective effects of the medicinal plant T. vulgaris in vivo, since there are no publications that address the potential protective effect of this leaf extract against Pb-induced hepatorenal toxicity. Our studies concluded that the T. vulgaris extract reduces Pb overload in hepatorenal tissues, and that this has a potential immunomodulatory role, antioxidant activity, and a protective effect against Pb toxicity.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Dr. Akhmed Aslam, Assistant Professor of immunology, Laboratory Medicine Department, Faculty of Applied Medical Sciences, Umm Al-Qura University, for proof-editing the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Mohamed E. El-Boshy.

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El-Boshy, M.E., Refaat, B., Qasem, A.H. et al. The remedial effect of Thymus vulgaris extract against lead toxicity-induced oxidative stress, hepatorenal damage, immunosuppression, and hematological disorders in rats. Environ Sci Pollut Res 26, 22736–22746 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-019-05562-8

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Keywords

  • Thymus vulgaris
  • Immunomodulatory
  • Antioxidants
  • Hepatorenal
  • Hematology
  • Lead
  • Rats