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Open Access Research article

In vitro protection of biological macromolecules against oxidative stress and in vivo toxicity evaluation of Acacia nilotica (L.) and ethyl gallate in rats

Shalini Mohan1, Kalaivani Thiagarajan1, Rajasekaran Chandrasekaran1* and Joseph Arul2

  • * Corresponding author: Rajasekaran Chandrasekaran

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 School of Bio Sciences and Technology, VIT University, Vellore, Tamilnadu 632014, India

2 Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Laval University, Quebec, QC G1V 0A6, Canada

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014, 14:257  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-257

Published: 21 July 2014



Recently, enormous research has been focused on natural bioactive compounds possessing potential antioxidant and anticancer properties using cell lines and animal models. Acacia nilotica (L.) is widely distributed in Asia, Africa, Australia and Kenya. The plant is traditionally used to treat mouth, ear and bone cancer. However, reports on Acacia nilotica (L.) Wild. Ex. Delile subsp. indica (Benth.) Brenan regarding its toxicity profile is limited. Hence in this study, we investigated the antioxidant capacity and acute toxicity of ethyl gallate, a phenolic antioxidant present in the A. nilotica (L.) leaf extract.


The antioxidant activity of ethyl gallate against Fenton’s system (Fe3+/H2O2/ascorbic acid) generated oxidative damage to pBR322 DNA and BSA was investigated. We also studied the interaction of ethyl gallate to CT-DNA by wave scan and FTIR analysis. The amount of ethyl gallate present in the A. nilotica (L.) leaf extract was calculated using HPLC and represented in gram equivalence of ethyl gallate. The acute toxicity profile of ethyl gallate in the A. nilotica (L.) leaf extract was analyzed in albino Wistar rats. Measurement of liver and kidney function markers, total proteins and glucose were determined in the serum. Statistical analysis was done using statistical package for social sciences (SPSS) tool version 16.0.


Ethyl gallate was found to be effective at 100 μg/mL concentration by inhibiting the free radical mediated damage to BSA and pBR322 DNA. We also found that the interaction of ethyl gallate and A. nilotica (L.) leaf extract to CT-DNA occurs through intercalation. One gram of A. nilotica (L.) leaf extract was found to be equivalent to 20 mg of ethyl gallate through HPLC analysis. Based on the acute toxicity results, A. nilotica (L.) leaf extract and ethyl gallate as well was found to be non-toxic and safe.


Results revealed no mortality or abnormal biochemical changes in vivo and the protective effect of A. nilotica (L.) leaf extract and ethyl gallate on DNA and protein against oxidative stress in vitro. Hence, A. nilotica (L.) leaf extract or ethyl gallate could be used as potential antioxidants with safe therapeutic application in cancer chemotherapy.

Acacia nilotica (L.); Ethyl gallate; Antioxidant; Oxidative damage; Toxicity; DNA interaction