Natural cocoa ingestion reduced liver damage in mice infected with Plasmodium berghei (NK65)
Eric Aidoo,1 Frederick K Addai,1 John Ahenkorah,1 Bismarck Hottor,1 Kwasi A Bugyei,2 Ben A Gyan3
1Department of Anatomy, 2Department of Pharmacology, University of Ghana Medical School, College of Health Sciences, Korle-Bu, Accra, Ghana; 3Department of Immunology, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, Ghana
Purpose: This study tested whether natural cocoa powder ingestion could mitigate hepatic injury coincident with murine malaria. Plasmodium berghei infection causes liver damage including hepatic sinusoidal distension, and elevated serum alanine transaminase (ALT) and aspartate transaminase (AST) levels. According to literature, these pathologies largely result from activity of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and may be extenuated by antioxidants.
Animals and methods: Thirty Balb/c mice were randomly assigned to three equal groups. One of two groups of mice inoculated with 0.2 mL of P. berghei-parasitized red blood cells (RBCs) was given unrestricted 24-hour access to a natural cocoa powder beverage (2% by weight) in place of water. The third group of mice were neither infected nor given cocoa. All mice were fed the same standard chow. After 6 days, mice were sacrificed and their livers processed for histomorphometric assessment of mean hepatic sinusoidal diameter as a quantitative measure of altered morphology. Serum ALT and AST were measured as a gauge of functional impairment.
Results: Compared with uninfected mice, hepatic sinusoidal diameter in P. berghei-infected mice not given cocoa increased by 150%, whereas a smaller increase of 83% occurred in infected mice that ingested cocoa. Mean serum ALT increased by 127% in infected mice not given cocoa and 80% in infected mice that consumed cocoa, compared with the value for uninfected mice. Similarly, mean serum AST was raised by 141% in infected mice not given cocoa and 93% in infected mice that drank cocoa.
Conclusion: Distension of hepatic sinusoidal diameter in P. berghei-infected mice was reduced by 67%, whereas respective elevations of serum ALT and AST concentrations were reduced by 47% and 48% via ingestion of cocoa. Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant components of cocoa probably mediated the demonstrated hepatoprotective benefit by blunting pernicious ROS activity in P. berghei-infected mice.
Keywords: polyphenol antioxidants, murine malaria, hepatic sinusoids, reactive oxygen species
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