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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Garlic extracts prevent oxidative stress, hypertrophy and apoptosis in cardiomyocytes: a role for nitric oxide and hydrogen sulfide

Xavier Lieben Louis123, Ryan Murphy4, Sijo Joseph Thandapilly123, Liping Yu13 and Thomas Netticadan1235*

Author Affiliations

1 Canadian Centre for Agri-Food Research in Health and Medicine, Winnipeg,, R2H2A6, Canada

2 Department of Physiology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg,, R3E 0J9, Canada

3 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Winnipeg, R3T 2M9, Canada

4 Department of Food Science, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, R3T 2N2, Canada

5 Heart Failure Research Laboratory, Canadian Centre for Agri-Food Research in Health and Medicine, R2020, St. Boniface Hospital Research Centre, 351 Tache Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R2H 2A6, Canada

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012, 12:140  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-140

Published: 29 August 2012

Abstract

Background

In ancient times, plants were recognized for their medicinal properties. Later, the arrival of synthetic drugs pushed it to the backstage. However, from being merely used for food, plants are now been widely explored for their therapeutic value. The current study explores the potential of skin and flesh extracts from a hard-necked Rocambole variety of purple garlic in preventing cardiomyocyte hypertrophy and cell death.

Methods

Norepinephrine (NE) was used to induce hypertrophy in adult rat cardiomyocytes pretreated with garlic skin and flesh extracts. Cell death was measured as ratio of rod to round shaped cardiomyocytes. Fluorescent probes were used to measure apoptosis and oxidative stress in cardiomyocytes treated with and without extracts and NE. Pharmacological blockade of nitric oxide (NO) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S) were used to elucidate the mechanism of action of garlic extracts. Garlic extract samples were also tested for alliin and allicin concentrations.

Results

Exposure of cardiomyocytes to NE induced an increase in cell size and cell death; this increase was significantly prevented upon treatment with garlic skin and flesh extracts. Norepinephrine increased apoptosis and oxidative stress in cardiomyocytes which was prevented upon pretreatment with skin and flesh extracts; NO, and H2S blockers significantly inhibited this beneficial effect. Allicin and alliin concentration were significantly higher in garlic flesh extract when compared to the skin extract.

Conclusion

These results suggest that both skin and flesh garlic extracts are effective in preventing NE induced cardiomyocyte hypertrophy and cell death. Reduction in oxidative stress may also play an important role in the anti-hypertrophic and anti-apoptotic properties of garlic extracts. These beneficial effects may in part be mediated by NO and H2S.