• Withania somnifera;
  • glycowithanolides;
  • iron-induced hepatotoxicity;
  • lipid peroxidation;
  • hepatoprotection


Glycowithanolides, consisting of equimolar concentrations of sitoindosides VII–X and withaferin A, isolated from the roots of Withania somnifera Dunal, have been reported to have an antioxidant effect in the rat brain frontal cortex and striatum. In the present study, the effect of 10 days of oral administration of these active principles, in graded doses (10, 20 and 50 mg/kg), was noted on iron overload (FeSo4, 30 mg/kg, i.p.) induced hepatotoxicity in rats. Apart from hepatic lipid peroxidation (LPO), the serum enzymes, alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase and lactate dehydrogenase, were assessed as indices of hepatotoxicity. Silymarin (20 mg/kg, p.o.) was used for comparison. Iron overload induced marked increase in hepatic LPO and serum levels of the enzymes, which was attenuated by WSG in a dose-related manner, and by silymarin. The results indicate that the reported use of WS in Ayurveda for hepatoprotection against heavy metals and other environmental toxins, may be due the antioxidant action of WSG. Copyright © 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.