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J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 2011 Feb;95(1):114-24. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0396.2010.01033.x.

Effects of a skullcap root supplement on haematology, serum parameters and antioxidant enzymes in rabbits on a high-cholesterol diet.

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Department of Biostructure and Animal Physiology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Sciences, Norwida 31, Wroclaw, Poland.


We studied the effects of Scutellaria baicalensis root on blood parameters and antioxidant enzyme activities in rabbits fed a high-cholesterol diet. Thirty-two New Zealand White rabbits were divided into four groups of eight animals each. They were fed a standard diet (C group), a diet with a 1% pure cholesterol supplement (CH group), a diet with a 1% pure cholesterol supplement and a 9% skullcap root supplement (CH+SR group), or a diet with a 9% skullcap root supplement (SR group). After 6 weeks, the rabbits fed the high-cholesterol diet had significantly decreased RBC and Hb levels and significantly increased MCV, MCH and Fe levels (p≤ 0.05). The skullcap root supplement had no adverse effects on the haematological parameters. The values for RBC, Hb, HCT, MCV, MCH and MCHC were similar in the skullcap root-treated and control rabbits. We also observed a remarkable elevation in the serum TC, LDL and TG levels at the end of the 6-week period. The rabbits fed the cholesterol diet showed decreased activity of the erythrocyte GSH-Px compared with the rabbits fed the basal diet. The GSH-Px activity was significantly higher in the rabbits fed the CH+SR diet than in those on the CH diet. The erythrocyte SOD activity was also significantly decreased in the rabbits on the CH diet. However, the CH+SR group rabbits showed significantly enhanced erythrocyte SOD activity. The SOD level in the CH+SR rabbits was 34.91 U/ml, which was a 23% increase (p≤ 0.05) in relation to the results for the CH group and only 15% diminished in relation to the control group. These results suggest that the dietary supplementation of skullcap root may improve rabbit antioxidant systems and protect against the risks from a high-cholesterol diet.

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