Concomitant oral supplementation of Centella asiatica (100, 200 or 300 mg kg(-1), orally once daily) during arsenic exposure (20 ppm in drinking water for 4 weeks) was investigated in rats for its protective value. The animals exposed to arsenic (III) showed a significant inhibition of delta-aminolevulinic acid dehydratase (ALAD) activity, a marginal decrease in glutathione (GSH) and an increase in zinc protoporphyrin (ZPP) level in blood. Hepatic and renal glutathione (GSH) decreased, while oxidized glutathione (GSSG) and thiobarbituric acid reactive substance (TBARS) levels increased significantly in the liver, kidney and brain. The activities of brain superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase decreased marginally on arsenic exposure. Concomitant administration of Centella asiatica showed a significant protective action on inhibited blood ALAD activity and restored the blood GSH level, whereas most of the other blood biochemical parameters remained unchanged on Centella asiatica supplementation. Interestingly, most of the hepatic biochemical variables indicative of oxidative stress showed protection. There was, however, a significant protection observed in the altered kidney GSSG level and hepatic and brain TBARS. Only a marginal beneficial effect of Centella asiatica on blood and liver arsenic concentration was noted, particularly at the highest dose studies (300 mg kg(-1)). No effect of Centella asiatica on most of the altered renal biochemical parameters was noted. The results thus lead to the conclusion that simultaneous supplementation of Centella asiatica significantly protects against arsenic-induced oxidative stress but does not influence the arsenic concentration in these organs. It can thus be suggested that co-administration of Centella asiatica protects animals from arsenic-induced oxidative stress but exhibits no chelating property. Further studies are recommended for determining the effect of co-administration of Centella asiatica during chelation therapy with a thiol chelator.
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