Short-term and sub-chronic dietary exposure to aspalathin-enriched green rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) extract affects rat liver function and antioxidant status

10 Jul 2018

An aspalathin-enriched green rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) extract (GRE) was fed to male Fischer rats in two independent studies for 28 and 90 days. The average dietary total polyphenol (TP) intake was 75.6 and 62.7 mg Gallic acid equivalents (GAE)/kg body weight (bw)/day over 28 and 90 days, respectively, equaling human equivalent doses (HEDs) of 12.3 and 10.2 GAE mg/kg bw/day. Aspalathin intake of 29.5 mg/kg bw/day represents a HED of 4.8 mg/kg bw/day (90 day study). Consumption of GRE increased feed intake significantly (p < 0.05) compared to the control after 90 days, but no effect on body and organ weight parameters was observed. GRE significantly (p < 0.05) reduced serum total cholesterol and iron levels, whilst significantly (p < 0.05) increasing alkaline phosphatase enzyme activity after 90 days. Endogenous antioxidant enzyme activity in the liver, i.e., catalase and superoxide dismutase activity, was not adversely affected. Glutathione reductase activity significantly (p < 0.05) increased after 28 days, while glutathione (GSH) content was decreased after 90 days, suggesting an altered glutathione redox cycle. Quantitative Real Time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis showed altered expression of certain antioxidant defense and oxidative stress related genes, indicative, among others, of an underlying oxidative stress related to changes in the GSH redox pathway and possible biliary dysfunction.