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J Med Food. 2012 Apr;15(4):335-43. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2011.1780. Epub 2012 Feb 21.

β-sitosterol prevents lipid peroxidation and improves antioxidant status and histoarchitecture in rats with 1,2-dimethylhydrazine-induced colon cancer.

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  • 1Department of Community Health Sciences, College of Applied Medical Sciences, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


Oxidative stress has become widely viewed as an underlying condition in diseases such as ischemia/reperfusion disorders, central nervous system disorders, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, etc. The role that antioxidants play in the process of carcinogenesis has recently gained considerable attention. β-Sitosterol, a naturally occurring sterol molecule, is a relatively mild to moderate antioxidant and exerts beneficial effects in vitro by decreasing the level of reactive oxygen species. The present study evaluated the antioxidant potential of β-sitosterol in 1,2-dimethylhydrazine (DMH)-induced colon carcinogenesis. The enzymatic and nonenzymatic antioxidants and lipid peroxides in colonic and hepatic tissues were evaluated. Generation of reactive oxygen species, beyond the body's endogenous antioxidant capacity, causes a severe imbalance of cellular antioxidant defense mechanisms. Elevated levels of liver lipid peroxides by DMH induction were effectively decreased by β-sitosterol supplementation. β-Sitosterol also exhibited a protective action against DMH-induced depletion of antioxidants such as catalase, superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, glutathione reductase, glutathione S-transferase, and reduced glutathione in colonic and hepatic tissues of experimental animals. Supplementation with β-sitosterol restored the levels of nonenzymatic antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E, and glutathione). Histopathological alterations in DMH-induced animals were restored to near normal in rats treated with β-sitosterol. Thus, β-sitosterol by virtue of its antioxidant potential may be used as an effective agent to reduce DMH-induced oxidative stress in Wistar rats and may be an effective chemopreventive drug for colon carcinogenesis.

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