Lead is known to disrupt the biological systems by altering the molecular interactions, cell signaling, and cellular function. Exposure to even low levels of lead may have potential hazardous effects on brain, liver, kidneys and testes. The efficacy of Etlingera elatior (torch ginger) to protect hepatotoxicity induced by lead acetate was evaluated experimentally in male Sprague - Dawley rats. Rats were exposed to lead acetate in drinking water (500 ppm) for 21 days and the effects of concurrent treatment with extract of E. elatior on hepatic lipid hydroperoxides (LPO), protein carbonyl content (PCC), total antioxidants (TA), superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GPX) and glutathione S- Transferase (GST) levels and histopathological changes in liver were evaluated. There was a significant decrease in TA and other antioxidant enzymes (p < 0.05) and increase in LPO and PCC (p < 0.05) with lead acetate ingestion. Concurrent treatment with E. elatior extract significantly reduced the LPO and PCC (p < 0.05) in serum and increased the antioxidant enzyme levels (p < 0.05) in the liver. Significant histopathological changes were seen in hepatic tissue with chronic lead ingestion. Treatment with E. elatior significantly reduced these lead-induced changes in hepatic architecture. E. elatior has also reduced the blood lead levels (BLL). Thus, there has been extensive biochemical and structural alterations indicative of liver toxicity with exposure to lead and E. elatior treatment significantly reduced these oxidative damage. Our results suggest that E. elatior has a powerful antioxidant effect against lead-induced hepatotoxicity.
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