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Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2009;10(5):933-8.

Ursolic acid attenuates oxidative stress-mediated hepatocellular carcinoma induction by diethylnitrosamine in male Wistar rats.

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Department of Medical Biochemistry, University of Madras, Chennai, India.


Hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common primary cancer of the liver in Asian countries. For more than a decade natural dietary agents including fruits, vegetables and spices have drawn a great deal of attention in the prevention of diseases, preferably cancer. Ursolic acid is a natural triterpenoid widely found in food, medicinal herbs, apple peel and other products it has been extensively studied for its anticancer and antioxidant properties. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of ursolic acid in diethylnitrosamine (DEN) induced and phenobarbital promoted hepatocarcinogenesis in male Wistar rats. Antioxidant status was assessed by alterations in level of lipid peroxides and protein carbonyls. Damage to plasma membranes was assessed by levels of membrane and tissue ATPases. Liver tissue was homogenized and utilized for estimation of lipid peroxides, protein carbonyls and glycoproteins. Anticoagulated blood was utilized for erythrocyte membrane isolation. Oral administration of UA 20 mg/kg bodyweight for 6 weeks decreased the levels of lipid peroxides and protein carbonyls at a significance of p< 0.05. Activities of membrane and tissue ATPases returned to normal after UA administration. Levels of glycoproteins were also restored after treatment. Histopathological observations were recorded. The findings from the above study suggest the effectiveness of UA in reducing the oxidative stress mediated changes in liver of rats. Since UA has been found to be a potent antioxidant, it can be suggested as an excellent chemopreventive agent in overcoming diseases like cancer which are mediated by free radicals.

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