Saudi Journal of Kidney Diseases and Transplantation

: 2012  |  Volume : 23  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 765--772

Matricaria chamomilla attenuates cisplatin nephrotoxicity

Ragaa H.M. Salama 
 Department of Medical Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Assiut University, Assiut, Egypt

Correspondence Address:
Ragaa H.M. Salama
Associate Professor, Medical Biochemistry Department, Faculty of Medicine, Assuit University, Assiut


Matricaria chamomilla is extensively consumed as a tea or tonic. Despite its widespread use as a home remedy, relatively few trials evaluated its benefits in nephro protection. Hence, this study evaluates the protective role of M. chamomilla in cisplatin nephrotoxicity rat model. The study was conducted on 32 rats divided into four groups. The first group (G1) was injected with saline intra-peritoneally (IP); G2 was injected with 5 mg/kg cisplatin on day 0 of the experiment and repeated four times, with five days free interval. G3 and G4 were injected daily with M. chamomilla (50 mg/kg) IP, starting five days before the experiment (-5 day); in addition, G4 was injected with cisplatin. On day 16, animals were scarified and serum and/or kidney tissue was used to determine: (a) kidney function tests (serum urea, creatinine, gamma glutamyl transferase (GGT), NAG, β-gal), (b) oxidative stress indices (NO, LPO), (c) antioxidant activities (SOD, GSH, total thiols), (d) apoptotic indices (Cathepsin D, DNA fragmentation) and (e) mineral (calcium). M. chamomilla significantly increased the body weight, normalized the kidney functions, improved the apoptotic markers, reduced the oxidative stress markers and corrected the hypo-calcemia that resulted from cisplatin nephrotoxicity. M. chamomilla is a promising nephro-protective compound reducing cisplatin nephrotoxicity most probably by its antioxidant activities and inhibition of gamma glutamyl transferase activity.

How to cite this article:
Salama RH. Matricaria chamomilla attenuates cisplatin nephrotoxicity.Saudi J Kidney Dis Transpl 2012;23:765-772

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Salama RH. Matricaria chamomilla attenuates cisplatin nephrotoxicity. Saudi J Kidney Dis Transpl [serial online] 2012 [cited 2022 Jan 24 ];23:765-772
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Cisplatin is a major antineoplastic drug for the treatment of solid tumors, but it has dose-dependent renal toxicity. It has multiple intra-cellular effects, causing direct cytotoxicity with reactive oxygen species, activating mitogen-activated protein kinases, inducing apoptosis and stimulating inflammation and fibrogenesis. [1] Chamomile (Matricaria recutita L., Chamomilla recutita L., Matricaria chamomilla) is one of the most popular single-ingredient herbal tea, or tisanes. Chamomile tea, brewed from dried flower heads, has been used traditionally for medicinal purposes. Evidence-based informa­tion regarding the bioactivity of this herb is presented. Chamomile has moderate antioxidant and antimicrobial activities and significant anti-platelet activity in vitro. Animal model studies indicate potent anti-inflammatory ac­tion, some antimutagenic and cholesterol-lo­wering activities as well as antispasmotic and anxiolytic effects. [2] Its methanolic extract showed potent neuroprotective activity against global cerebral ischemia/reperfusion injury-induced oxidative stress in rats. [3] There are numerous varieties of Chamomile, but the two most popular are Roman chamomile and German chamomile. German chamomile is called Matricaria chamomilla, and is considered the more potent of the two, and has received more scientific evaluation. [4] Evidence recommend German chamomile for short-term relief of mild insomnia in cancer patients. [5] This study aimed to evaluate the protective effects of M. chamomilla in cisplatin nephrotoxicity rat model.

 Materials and Methods

Preparation of Matricaria chamomilla and cisplatin

M. chamomilla (dry leaves and flowers) was selected with a fair degree of quality assurance from the Faculty of Pharmacy, Pharmacognosy Department, Assiut University, Egypt. The identity of the plant was verified by the Center of Medicinal, Aromatic and Poisonous Plants and a voucher specimen was kept on record in the herbarium of the Faculty of Pharmacy. The dry leaves were crushed to powder and 25 g of the powder was extracted with 500 mL 95% ethanol overnight with continuous stirring. This was repeated for three successive days. The pooled extracts (1500 mL) were evaporated to render the product alcohol-free. [6] One gram of the product was reconstituted with saline until the final concentration was 50 mg/mL and stored at 4΀C ready for use.

Cisplatin was obtained from Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Princeton, New Jersey, USA. A vial of 50 mg was reconstituted with 25 mL saline immediately before injection, with a final concentration of 2 mg/mL.

Experimental design

The study was carried out on 32 healthy adult male Sprague-Dawley rats weighing 200-300 g. Their ages ranged from 22 to 24 weeks. The animals were housed conventionally in clean cages and fed with standard food and water ad libitum. The animals were housed in groups in 12-h light/dark cycles. The care and treatment of the animals were approved and performed according to the guidelines of the Animal House of Faculty of Medicine, Assiut University, Egypt. The rats were divided randomly into four groups of eight animals each. The first group (G1) was the healthy reference (HR) group, injected intraperitoneally (IP) with 1 mL saline. The second group (G2) was injected IP with 5 mg/kg cisplatin on day 0 of the experiment and repeated four times, with five days free inter­val in between. By the 5 th day, up to 43% of the administered cisplatin was recovered in the urine. [7] G3 and G4 were injected IP with M. chamomilla (50 mg/kg). The injection started five days before the experiment (-5 day) and continued daily till the end of the experiment. In addition, G4 received cisplatin injection 1 h after M. chamomilla in the same manner as group 2. On day 16, the animals were weighed, blood samples obtained by preoribital puncture, then sacrificed and both kidneys were removed and weighed. Kidneys were homogenized in 6 mL ice cold saline, then centrifuged at 4000 x g for 10 min at 4΀C and the supernatant was conserved at -70΀C for biochemical assays.

Biochemical analysis

Serum samples were used for determi­ nation of

1.1. Kidney function tests: serum urea, creatinine determined by using kit from Stanbio, Boerne, TX, USA, and gamma glutamyl transferase (GGT) by using kit from QCA, Amposta (Tarragona), Spain.

1.2. Oxidative stress indices: nitric oxide (NO) measured as total nitrite [8] and lipid peroxidation (LPO) as thio barbituric acid-reactive substances. [9]

1.3. Antioxidants: Superoxide dismutase activity (SOD)10 and total thiols measured by chemical method. [11]

1.4. Serum level of Ca+2 determined by an atomic absorption spectrophotometer (Buck, E. Norwalk Scientific, USA; model 210 VGP) using nitrous oxide/ acetone flame absorption at wave length 422.7 nm.Supernatants of kidney homogenates were used for determination of:

2.1. Proximal convoluted tubules function tests by beta-N-acetylglucosaminidase (NAG) and β-gGalactosidase (β-Gal). [12]

2.2. Oxidative stress index: LPO was deter­mined as thiobarbituric acid reactive substances. [9]

2.3. Antioxidants: SOD [10] and reduced glutathione (GSH) determined by a spectrophotometer. [13]

2.4. Apoptotic indices: Cathepsin D was determined by chemical methods, as hemoglobin splitting activity of cathepsin [14] and DNA fragmentation by colorimetric method using diphenylamine (98% v/v glacial acetic acid; 1.5% v/v sulfuric acid; and 0.5% v/v of 1.6% acetaldehyde). [15] 2.5. Total protein was measured using a kit from Stanbio USA.

 Statistical Analysis

Data were analyzed using SPSS version 16. Values were expressed as mean ΁ SE. The dif­ference between the HR group (G1) and the cisplatin group (G2) or between groups that received M. chamomilla only (G3) or in com­bination with cisplatin group (G4) for each parameter was assessed by the Mann-Whitney U test. We performed one way analysis of variance (ANOVA) followed by post hoc test (Tukey HSD) for multiple comparison bet­ween cisplatin group (G2) and all groups. The correlation coefficient was calculated to assess the relation between the parameters. The re­sults were considered statistically significant at P≤0.05.


The clinical data of animals are shown in [Figure 1] (A-C). The increase of body weight in the HR group was 3.99% and in the G3 group, which received M. chamomilla only, was 3.38%. On the other hand, there was a reduction in body weight in G2, which received cisplatin only, by 7.59% and in G4, which re­ceived cisplatin and M. chamomilla, by 3.31%.{Figure 1}

Cisplatin caused elevation in all kidney func­tion indices. Co-administration of M. chamomilla with cisplatin attenuated the toxic effects of cisplatin in kidney by decreasing the levels of urea, creatinine, NAG, β-GAL and GGT [Table 1]. There was a correlation (r = 0.731, P < 0.05) between GGT and NAG under the effect of cisplatin (G2). Cisplatin caused signi­ficance elevation in NO and LPO and a re­duction in SOD, total thiols and GSH, and an increase in cathepsin D and DNA fragmen­tation [Table 2], [Table 3] and [Table 4] compared with controls (G1).{Table 1}{Table 2}{Table 3}{Table 4}

Co-administration of M. chamomilla with cisplatin provided better protection from oxidative stress and apoptosis, as shown in [Table 2] and [Table 3]. Cisplatin caused a significant decrease in serum Ca 2 + . However, co-administration of M. chamomilla with cisplatin (G4) provided better protection from cisplatin-induced hypocalcemia [Figure 2].{Figure 2}


M. chamomilla is a well-known medicinal plant used as carminative, analgesic and anticonvulsant in traditional medicine. [16] The extract of M. chamomilla possesses creditable effects on seizure induced by picrotoxin. [17] Bisabololoxide A is the principle constituent of some bio-activities of German chamomile, including anti-inflammatory, gastrointestinal and anti-pruritic actions. [18]

In this study (cisplatin 5 mg/kg, four doses, time of experiment 21 days), there was a 7.59% decrease in body weight in the cisplatin-treated group compared with 14% decrease in body weights in another study (cisplatin 15 mg/kg, time of experiment five days). [19] In this study, there was a 1.4-times increase of kidney weight to body weight after cisplatin treatment. This could be explained by the marked decrease in the total body weight in the cisplatin-treated group. In other studies, there were 1.7- and two-times increase, respectively, in kidney weight to body weight in the cisplatin-treated animals. [20],[21] The co-administration of M. chamomilla with cisplatin reduced this ratio when compared with the cisplatin treated group; this may be due to relatively less reduction in the total body weight in this group (G4).

According to the cut-off values for the nor­mal range of blood urea nitrogen (≤40 mg/dL) and serum creatinine values (≤0.2 mg/dL) based on the values obtained from normal untreated mice [19] ; our results disclosed 2.4- and 1.7-times increase of these values, respectively, in the cisplatin-treated group when compared with the control group. In other studies, the increase in the urea levels was 3.7- and two-times and the creatinine levels was 2.3- and 4.5-times. [20],[21] Furthermore, the cisplatin group in our study showed significant elevation of NAG and β-GAL levels when compared with the control group. This elevation in NAG levels is usually due to early impaired renal function and renal tubular damage. [22] These changes were minimized in the group that received cisplatin with M. chamomilla (G4). During cisplatin chemotherapy, the oxidative stress associated with increased generation on reactive oxygen metabolites (ROM) can cause LPO in the kidneys and decreased levels of antioxidants and antioxidant enzymes. [23] M. chamomilla methanolic extracts revealed a dose-dependent nephro-protective activity by sig­nificant decrease in LPO and increase in the SOD, catalase (CAT), glutathione (GSH) and total thiol levels in the chamomilla extract-treated groups compared with the ischemia/re-perfusion group. [3] In this study, oxidative stress induced by cisplatin manifested as an elevation in nitric oxide (NO) and lipid peroxide levels and reduction of antioxidants, SOD, GSH and total thiol levels [Table 2] and [Table 3]. Increased levels of LPO in serum and tissue homogenates in cisplatin-treated animals was reported. [6],[21] In contrast, a decrease in NO levels in cisplatin-treated animals when compared with controls was detected. [20] Moreover, there was a decrease in the antioxidant, such as GSH and SOD, activities. [24]

The expression of cathepsin D, the lysosomal protease, had been shown to increase with pro­tein degradation that occurred during apoptosis. [25] In this study, cisplatin caused signi­ficant increase in cathepsin D levels and DNA fragmentation. Animals that received cisplatin with M. chamomilla revealed a significant re­duction in these parameters.

GGT, a key enzyme of GSH metabolism, can modulate crucial redox-sensitive functions, such as antioxidant/antitoxic defenses and cellular proliferative/apoptotic balance. [26] The highest level of activity was on the luminal surface of the proximal tubule cells in the kidney. Acivicin, an inhibitor of GGT, blocks nephrotoxicity of cisplatin in rats. [19] GGT cleaves the gamma-glutamyl group of the GSH-conjugate and aminopeptidase cleaves the cysteinyl-glycine bond and results in a platinum-cys-teine conjugate. Finally, the cysteine conju­gate is metabolized by cysteine-s-conjugate beta-lyase to reactive thiol. [27] In this study, M. chamomilla decreased the levels of GGT signi­ficantly. Moreover, M. chamomilla did not con­tain glutamic or methionine to support the re­generation of GSH. [28] However, chamazulene, a constituent of M. chamomilla, affects free radical processes and inhibits LPO in a con­centration- and time-dependent manner. [29]

Calcium is the most important mineral that is affected by cisplatinum administration. [20],[30] Calcium released from intracellular calcium storage in the early phase of nephrotoxicity causes oxidative stress in the renal tubular epithelial cells. [22] In this study, co-adminis­tration of M. chamomilla with cisplatin caused a significant improvement in cisplatin-induced hypocalcemia.

The minimal side-effects of M. chamomilla, as it has been used as a tea for a long time, and good protection of kidney may encourage phy­sicians to consider it as an adjuvant with che­motherapy, and human studies accordingly are warranted.


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