Old World Forked Fern’s Methanolic Extract Can Reduce Liver Damage Caused By OTC Painkillers
Acetaminophen, an over-the-counter painkiller, can damage the liver and cause serious health problems. In a recent study conducted by Malaysian researchers, it was found that compounds from a common fern can protect the liver from toxic acetaminophen.
Your liver gets exposed to various substances every day. Many of these substances’ are toxic. The liver works by detoxifying and removing these toxins out of the body. However, too much or constant exposure to these toxins can eventually overwhelm the organ.
Free radicals, which can damage the membrane of the liver cells, are released by these chemicals. Since the liver is responsible for regulating numerous physiological functions, this consequence will affect the entire body.
Pharmaceutical drugs have been found to be a prime source of liver damage. Acetaminophen (APAP), for instance, is considered a “safe drug” and is often used as a painkiller. But, overdosing on APAP will kill hepatic cells which in the long-run, could lead to liver failure.
There are various means of treating liver damage – it may be through the use of natural products or derived from such. In a different study by the Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), the Old World forked fern (Dicranopteris linearis) was the subject of the researchers wherein they have found that the protective properties of the plant’s methanolic extract can be used against carbon tetrachloride (CCl4).
The researchers turned their sights from CCl4 to acetaminophen, which uses a different means to damage liver cells. They investigated the protective effects of the forked fern extract against APAP.
Old World Forked Fern’s Methanolic Extract Might Protect The Liver
Methanol extracted from the forked plant fern was administered to mice in 5,000 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) dosage to determine acute toxicity.
The liver-protecting properties of the extract were next up for determination. The normal control group received the delivery vehicle, the hepatotoxic control was administered acetaminophen, and the positive control received APAP and silymarin, a hepaprotective extract from milk thistle.
Alongside with acetaminophen, the last three groups were given 50, 250, and 500 mg/kg of methanolic extract. Before APAP was administered to them, pre-treatment solutions were given once per day for seven days.
The UPM researchers drew blood from the treated rats. The animals were euthanized; their livers were examined for histopathology and the presence of endogenous enzymes that produce antioxidants in the liver.
Moreover, the forked fern’s methanolic extract was examined for any inhibitory effect on the lipoxygenase and xanthine oxide enzymes that produce inflammatory substances. Finally, the bioactive compounds in the extract were identified by the ultra-high-pressure liquid chromatography (UHPLC), and gas chromatography-mass spectrology (GCMS).
Bioactive Compounds In Fern Extract Confirmed For Hepatoprotective Activity
Researchers from UPM found that large amounts of the fern extracts have no toxic effects on mice. Their blood and biochemical parameters remained normal; their organs showed no lesions or pathological changes, and they did not change behaviors or lose weight.
Heavier livers and larger liver/body weight ratios were showed by hepatotoxic rats. These gains were greatly decreased by the pre-administration of the methanolic extract. Silymarin pre-treatment achieved the same effects as the 50 mg/kg extract.
All doses of methanolic extract reduced the levels of ALT, ALP, and AST serum liver enzymes. Along with silymarin, they boosted the activity of the antioxidant-producing enzymes CAT and SOD in the liver, which broke down toxic free radicals that could damage liver cell membranes. Likewise, results also revealed that the extract can reduce the amount of damage acetaminophen caused to liver cells.
Finally, the study found that according to the results of the chromatographic analyses, the extract contained 48 volatile compounds. Some of these anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds might be the ones protecting the liver.
It was concluded by the UPM researchers that methanolic extract from the Old World forked fern could be a potential therapy method for repairing liver damage caused by acetaminophen overdose.