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01.12.2017 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies 1/2017

Profile of bioactive compounds in Nymphaea alba L. leaves growing in Egypt: hepatoprotective, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity

BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies > Ausgabe 1/2017
Riham Omar Bakr, Mona Mohamed El-Naa, Soumaya Saad Zaghloul, Mahmoud Mohamed Omar



Nymphaea alba L. represents an interesting field of study. Flowers have antioxidant and hepatoprotective effects, rhizomes constituents showed cytotoxic activity against liver cell carcinoma, while several Nymphaea species have been reported for their hepatoprotective effects. Leaves of N. alba have not been studied before. Therefore, in this study, in-depth characterization of the leaf phytoconstituents as well as its antioxidant and hepatoprotective activities have been performed where N. alba leaf extract was evaluated as a possible therapeutic alternative in hepatic disorders.


The aqueous ethanolic extract (AEE, 70%) was investigated for its polyphenolic content identified by high-resolution electrospray ionisation mass spectrometry (HRESI-MS/MS), while the petroleum ether fraction was saponified, and the lipid profile was analysed using gas liquid chromatography (GLC) analysis and compared with reference standards. The hepatoprotective activity of two doses of the extract (100 and 200 mg/kg; P.O.) for 5 days was evaluated against CCl4-induced hepatotoxicity in male Wistar albino rats, in comparison with silymarin. Liver function tests; aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), gamma glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT) and total bilirubin were performed. Oxidative stress parameters; malondialdehyde (MDA), reduced glutathione (GSH), catalase (CAT), superoxide dismutase (SOD), total antioxidant capacity (TAC) as well as inflammatory mediator; tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α were detected in the liver homogenate. Histopathological examination of the liver and immunohistochemical staining of caspase-3 were performed


Fifty-three compounds were tentatively identified for the first time in N.alba leaf extract, where ellagitannins represent the main identified constituents. Nine hydrocarbons, two sterols and eleven fatty acids were identified in the petroleum ether extract where, palmitic acid and linolenic acids represented the major saturated and unsaturated fatty acid respectively. N.alba AEE significantly improved the liver function, oxidative stress parameters as well as TNF-α in addition to the amelioration of histopathological features of the liver and a profound decrease in caspase-3 expression.


These results shed light on the hepatoprotective effect of N. alba that is comparable with that of silymarin. The antioxidant activities of N. alba extract in addition to the inhibition of crucial inflammatory mediator, as TNF-α, might be the possible hepatoprotective mechanisms.
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