Aims of the study: Cardiospermum halicacabum (CH) has been used in Chinese medicine for a long time. However, its fingerprint chromatogram, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory effects and mechanism are still needed to be explored. Therefore, the aims of this study investigated the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of CH extracts and its reference compounds ex vivo and in vivo. Materials and methods: In HPLC analysis, the fingerprint chromatogram of ethanolic extract of CH (ECH) was established. The effects of ACH (aqueous extract of CH) and ECH extracts were assessed for the antioxidant and LPS-induced NO production in RAW264.7 cells. In vivo anti-inflammatory activities of ECH were evaluated in mouse paw edema induced by λ-carrageenan (Carr). We investigate the anti-inflammatory mechanism of ECH via studies of the activities of catalase (CAT), superoxide dismutase (SOD), and glutathione peroxidase (GPx) in the liver and the levels of malondialdehyde (MDA) and nitrite oxide (NO) in the edema paw. Serum NO and TNF-α were also measured. Results: ECH had better antioxidant activity than that of ACH. In the anti-inflammatory test, ECH inhibited the development of paw edema induced by Carr and increased the activities of CAT, SOD and GPx in the liver tissue. ECH also decreased the level of NO in edematous paw tissue and in serum level, and diminished the level of serum TNF-α at the fifth hour after Carr injection. Conclusions: ECH exerts anti-inflammatory effects by suppressing TNF-α and NO. The anti-inflammatory mechanism of ECH might be related to the decrement of the level of MDA in the edema paw via increasing the activities of CAT, SOD and GPx in the liver. The results showed that ECH might serve as a natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.
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