• chamomile;
  • macrophages;
  • phase II enzymes;
  • oxidative stress;
  • antioxidant defense

Oxidative stress plays an important role in the development of various human diseases. Aqueous chamomile extract is used as herbal medicine, in the form of tea, demonstrated to possess antiinflammatory and antioxidant properties. We demonstrate the cytoprotective effects of chamomile on hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)-induced cellular damage in macrophage RAW 264.7 cells. Pretreatment of cells with chamomile markedly attenuated H2O2-induced cell viability loss in a dose-dependent manner. The mechanisms by which chamomile-protected macrophages from oxidative stress was through the induction of several antioxidant enzymes including NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase, superoxide dismutase, and catalase and increase nuclear accumulation of the transcription factor Nrf2 and its binding to antioxidant response elements. Furthermore, chamomile dose-dependently reduced H2O2-mediated increase in the intracellular levels of reactive oxygen species. Our results, for the first time, demonstrate that chamomile has protective effects against oxidative stress and might be beneficial to provide defense against cellular damage. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.