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Preventive Effect of Ethanolic Extract of Cactus (Opuntia Ficus-Indica) Cladodes on Methotrexate Induced Oxidative Damage of the Small Intestine in Wistar Rats

Amira Akacha, Tarek Rebai, Lazhar Zourgui, Mohamed Amri

Background: Methotrexate (MTX) is a cytotoxic chemotherapeutic element for various inflammatory diseases. The cytotoxic effect of MTX is also seen in normal tissues having a high proliferation rate, including gastrointestinal and bone marrow.

Aim: The aim of the present study is to find out whether oxidative damage could be relevant for MTX-induced toxicity in vivo using Wistar rats, and to investigate the preventive potential of cactus cladodes.

Materials and methods: Adult, healthy male Wistar rats (200-250 g) were pre-treated by ethanol fraction of cactus cladode. Following a single dose of methotrexate (20 mg/kg) given intraperitoneally, either vehicle (saline) or ethanolic fraction (400 mg/kg) was administered intraperitoneally. All animals were killed 24 hours after the intraperitoneal injection of MTX. Small intestine samples were collected for Malondialdehyde level (MDA), protein carbonyl generation and Peroxidase and Catalase activity measurement. Small intestine was also collected for histopathology analysis.

Results: Our results showed that MTX induced significant alterations in oxidative stress markers noticed in the form of intestinal tissues damage, MDA level increase and protein carbonyls generation. Catalase and Peroxidase activities decreased with MTX administration. The combined treatment of MTX with cactus extracts showed a reduction of MTX induced oxidative damage.

Conclusions: It could be concluded that cactus cladodes extract was effective in the protection of the small intestine against MTX-induced damage.