Spice bioactive compounds, capsaicin and curcumin, were both individually and in combination examined for antilithogenic potential during experimental induction of cholesterol gallstones in mice. Cholesterol gallstones were induced by feeding mice a high-cholesterol (0.5%) diet for
10 weeks. Groups of mice were maintained on a lithogenic diet that was supplemented with 0.015% capsaicin/0.2% curcumin/0.015% capsaicin + 0.2% curcumin. The lithogenic diet that contained capsaicin, curcumin, or their combination reduced the incidence of cholesterol gallstones by
50%, 66%, and 56%, respectively, compared with lithogenic control. This was accompanied by reduced biliary cholesterol and a marginal increase in phospholipid in these spice-fed groups. Increased cholesterol saturation index and cholesterol : phospholipid ratio in the bile caused by the
lithogenic diet was countered by the dietary spice compounds. The antilithogenic influence of spice compounds was attributable to the cholesterol-lowering effect of these dietary spices in blood and liver, as well as a moderate increase in phospholipids. Decreased activities of hepatic glutathione
reductase and glutathione-S-transferase caused by the lithogenic diet were countered by the combination of capsaicin and curcumin. The increased lipid peroxidation and the decreased concentration of ascorbic acid in the liver that was caused by the lithogenic diet was countered by the
dietary spice compounds, individually or in combination. Thus, while the capsaicin and curcumin combination did not have an additive influence in reducing the incidence of cholesterol gallstones in mice, their combination nevertheless was more beneficial in enhancing the activity of hepatic
antioxidant enzyme ─ glutathione reductase in the lithogenic situation. The antioxidant effects of dietary spice compounds are consistent with the observed reduction in cholesterol gallstones formed under lithogenic condition.
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