Journal of Cancer Research and Therapeutics

: 2016  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 561--564

Protective effect of ayurvedic formulations against doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity: Preliminary studies on Brahma Rasayana and Chyavanaprash

Entissar AlSuhailbani1, Aditya Menon2, Cherupally Krishnan Krishnan Nair2,  
1 Department of Genetics, College of Science, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
2 Pushpagiri Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, Thiruvalla, Kerala, India

Correspondence Address:
Cherupally Krishnan Krishnan Nair
Pushpagiri Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, Thiruvalla - 689 101, Kerala


Aim of Study: The present work aimed to examine the efficacy of two ayurvedic formulations, Brahma Rasayana (BRM) and Chyavanaprash (CHM) to alleviate doxorubicin (DOX) induced acute cardiotoxicity. Materials and Methods: Swiss albino mice were administered with DOX (25 mg/kg, i.p.) and two doses of BRM or CHM (1 and 2 g/kg). Cardiotoxicity was assessed by measuring the levels of various antioxidant parameters in the heart as well as release of marker enzymes in the serum was assayed. Histology of the heart was also performed to check for DOX-induced damages. Results: Administration of either BRM or CHM (1 and 2 g/kg) maintained the antioxidant status in the heart thereby preventing tissue damage as well as the release of marker enzymes. DOX-induced variation of cardiac architecture was also prevented by BRM and CHM administration. Conclusion: BRM and CHM administration could prevent DOX-induced acute cardiotoxicity.

How to cite this article:
AlSuhailbani E, Menon A, Nair CK. Protective effect of ayurvedic formulations against doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity: Preliminary studies on Brahma Rasayana and Chyavanaprash.J Can Res Ther 2016;12:561-564

How to cite this URL:
AlSuhailbani E, Menon A, Nair CK. Protective effect of ayurvedic formulations against doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity: Preliminary studies on Brahma Rasayana and Chyavanaprash. J Can Res Ther [serial online] 2016 [cited 2022 Sep 29 ];12:561-564
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Full Text


Doxorubicin (DOX), an anthracycline cancer chemotherapeutic drug, is widely used to treat various types of malignancies.[1] The long-term use of DOX is limited by its cardiotoxicity,[2] which includes congestive heart failure,[3] chronic cardiomyopathy,[4] and changes in electrocardiogram pattern.[5]

Endogenous antioxidant deficits have been suggested to play a major role in DOX-induced cardiomyopathy and heart failure.[6] DOX elicit cardiotoxicity by various mechanisms such as by interfering with DNA repair, inducing DNA damage,[7] free radicals generation, lipid peroxidation,[8] mitochondrial damage, etc.,[9] and decreasing the activity of Na + K + ATPase.[10] Since free radicals bring out the basic mechanism of DOX-induced cardiotoxicity, it is rational to consider antioxidants as therapeutics to mitigate its toxicity.

Ayurveda, the Indian holistic healthcare system of traditional medicines using natural ingredients,[11] has several potent antioxidant formulations. Two of such formulations Brahma Rasayana (BRM) and Chyavanaprash (CHM) are evaluated in the present study for their cardioprotective ability since several ingredients of BRM and CHM are proved to be potent antioxidants.[12],[13] These formulations have shown promise in alleviating various free radicals induced physiological conditions.[14],[15] Present study envisages to find out the ability of these ayurvedic formulations in reducing DOX-induced cardiotoxicity in mice model.

 Materials and Methods


Brahma Rasayana and CHM, made by a renowned manufacturer were obtained from a retail outlet. All the other chemicals and reagents used in this study were of analytical grade.


Male swiss albino mice of 8–10 weeks old, weighing 22–25 g was obtained from the small animal breeding section, Kerala Agricultural University, Mannuthy, Thrissur, Kerala. They were kept under standard conditions of temperature and humidity in the center's animal house facility. The animals were provided with standard mouse chow (Sai Durga Feeds and Foods, Bengaluru, India) and water ad libitum. All animal experiments in this study were carried out with the prior approval of the Institutional Animal Ethics Committee and were conducted strictly adhering to the guidelines of committee for the purpose of control and supervision of experiments on animals constituted by the Animal Welfare Division of Government of India.

Experimental design

Animals were randomly divided into six groups of five each as detailed below. Group I was kept as the untreated control and all the other groups received DOX (25 mg/kg, i.p.). Group III and Group IV were administered with BRM or CHM (2 g/kg, p.o.) after 1 h of DOX injection, i.p.

Group I: Untreated control.

Group II: DOX (25 mg/kg, i.p.).

Group III: DOX (25 mg/kg, i.p.) + BRM (1 g/kg, p.o.).

Group IV: DOX (25 mg/kg, i.p.) + BRM (2 g/kg, p.o.).

Group V: DOX (25 mg/kg, i.p.) + CHM (1 g/kg, p.o.).

Group VI: DOX (25 mg/kg, i.p.) + CHM (2 g/kg, p.o.).

Assessment of cardiotoxicity

Twenty-four hours after DOX treatment, blood was collected by cardiac puncture and serum was separated for biochemical analysis. Heart was excised and washed with ice-cold phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) and homogenates 10% (w/v) were prepared in PBS. Assessment of cardiac biomarkers such as creatinine kinase isoenzyme (CK-MB), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), and glutamate oxaloacetate transaminase (GOT), were analyzed using diagnostic kits (Agappe Diagnostic Pvt. Ltd.; Ernakulam, Kerala, India). Level of GSH was assayed by the method of Moron et al. (1979),[16] based on the reaction with 5,5'-dithiobis-2-nitrobenzoic acid. Glutathione peroxidase (GPx) activity was measured based on the method of Hafeman et al.,[17] based on the degradation of H2O2. Activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD) was measured by nitroblue tetrazolium reduction method of McCord and Fridovich,[18] protein levels in the tissue were measured by following the method of Lowry et al.[19] Levels in peroxidation of membrane lipids were done based on the method of Buege and Aust (1978).[20] For histopathological studies, heart was fixed in 10% formalin and embedded in paraffin wax. Sections of 5 micron thickness were made using a microtome and stained with hematoxylin-eosin.[21]

Statistical analysis

The results are presented as mean ± standard deviation of the studied group. Statistical analyses of the results were performed using ANOVA with Tukey–Kramer multiple comparisons test.


Antioxidant status

[Table 1] gives the cellular antioxidant levels (GSH, GPx, and SOD). The results indicated that a single dose of DOX (25 mg/kg) significantly decreased the tissue antioxidants. Oral administration of BRM or CHM helped to maintain these antioxidants at near normal levels.{Table 1}

Peroxidation of membrane lipids

As presented in [Figure 1], DOX (25 mg/kg) injection resulted in an increase in the levels of peroxidation of membrane lipids from 1.69 ± 0.30 to 4.1 ± 0.44 nM/mg protein. Administration of BRM or CHM helped in reducing the extent of peroxidation. BRM administration at a dose of 1 g/kg and 2 g/kg restored the level of peroxidation to 2.77 ± 0.62 and 2.01 ± 0.61, respectively. CHM administration at a dose of 1 g/kg and 2 g/kg restored the level of peroxidation to 2.63 ± 0.14 and 2.35 ± 0.29, respectively.{Figure 1}

Serum biochemical parameters

The levels of various serum parameters [Table 2] suggest that DOX (25 mg/kg) administration increased these enzyme levels while the administration of BRM or CHM prevented the increase in the serum enzyme levels following DOXO treatment.{Table 2}

Morphological study

Treatment of animals with DOXO imposed damage to the cardiac tissues as can be observed from the histopathological analysis [Figure 2]. [Figure 2]a is the section of a normal heart which shows normal morphology. There was a loss in the myofibril content, vacuolization of the cytoplasm along with swelling of mitochondria in DOX (25 mg/kg) administered animals [Figure 2]b. Administration of BRM or CHM prevented these side effects of DOX toxicity [Figure 2]c,[Figure 2]d,[Figure 2]e,[Figure 2]f. The results of histopathological analysis correlated with the findings from the tissue antioxidant levels and serum marker enzymes.{Figure 2}


The clinical use of DOX, an anthracycline derivative used for the treatment of various types of cancer, is limited by its dose-limiting cardiotoxicity.[22] The present work was an attempt to find the ability of two ayurvedic formulations in mitigating DOX-induced cardiotoxicity.

Doxorubicin elicits its cytotoxic effect by the generation of free radicals, by mainly two pathways: A nonenzymatic pathway that utilizes iron and an enzymatic mechanism using the mitochondrial respiratory chain.[23] Ultimately, DOX catalyzes the reduction of oxygen to form superoxide radical [24] thereby putting stress on the total tissue antioxidant capacity. Increase in production of free radicals along with the endogenous deficiency of antioxidants in heart results in induction of cardiac stress, which can be measured by the decrease in the levels of various antioxidants as well as an increase in peroxidation of membrane lipids in heart tissue. Administration of BRM or CHM prevented the DOX-induced cardiotoxicity by restoring the total antioxidant content.

In the present study, a single dose of DOX (25 mg/kg) induced cardiotoxicity manifested biochemically by the increase in the levels of serum LDH and CK-MB. These results were consistent with previous studies reported by other investigators.[25],[26],[27] The increased levels of LDH and CK-MB in serum suggest leakage of these enzymes from heart mitochondria because of DOX exerted toxicity in the tissue. Serum GOT is another enzyme whose increase has also been monitored during cardiac injury.[28] Administration of BRM and CHM prevented the release of these marker enzymes from mitochondria by protecting it from free radical-induced damages of DOX.

The present study convincingly proved that BRM or CHM administration prevents the cardiotoxic effect of DOX. Screening the vast repertoire of ayurveda can yield in the discovery of formulations which can be useful in preventing the side effects of chemotherapeutic drugs. Further studies will throw more light whether these formulations can offer preferential protection to normal tissues without reducing the curative effect of the chemotherapeutics.


The authors express their sincere appreciation to the Deanship of Scientific Research at King Saud University for support extended to the research group No (IRG14-05) for the publication


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