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MAK-4 and -5 supplemented diet inhibits liver carcinogenesis in mice

Marialetizia Penza1, Claudia Montani1, Marija Jeremic1, Giovanna Mazzoleni2, WL Wendy Hsiao3, Maurizio Marra4, Hari Sharma5 and Diego Di Lorenzo1*

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of Biotechnology, Civic Hospital of Brescia, 25123 Brescia, Italy

2 Unit of General Pathology and Immunology, School of Medicine, University of Brescia, 25123, Brescia, Italy

3 School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, China

4 Department of Gerontological Research, Diabetology Unit-INRCA, Ancona, Italy

5 Department of Pathology, College of Medicine and Public Health, The Ohio State University, Columbus, 43210-1240 Ohio, USA

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2007, 7:19  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-7-19

Published: 8 June 2007



Maharishi Amrit Kalash (MAK) is an herbal formulation composed of two herbal mixtures, MAK-4 and MAK-5. These preparations are part of a natural health care system from India, known as Maharishi Ayur-Veda. MAK-4 and MAK-5 are each composed of different herbs and are said to have maximum benefit when used in combination. This investigation evaluated the cancer inhibiting effects of MAK-4 and MAK-5, in vitro and in vivo.


In vitro assays: Aqueous extracts of MAK-4 and MAK-5 were tested for effects on ras induced cell transformation in the Rat 6 cell line assessed by focus formation assay. In vivo assays: Urethane-treated mice were put on a standard pellet diet or a diet supplemented with MAK-4, MAK-5 or both. At 36 weeks, livers were examined for tumors, sera for oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC), and liver homogenates for enzyme activities of glutathione peroxidase (GPX), glutathione-S-transferase (GST), and NAD(P)H: quinone reductase (QR). Liver fragments of MAK-fed mice were analyzed for connexin (cx) protein expression.


MAK-5 and a combination of MAK-5 plus MAK-4, inhibited ras-induced cell transformation. In MAK-4, MAK-5 and MAK4+5-treated mice we observed a 35%, 27% and 46% reduction in the development of urethane-induced liver nodules respectively. MAK-4 and MAK4+5-treated mice had a significantly higher ORAC value (P < 0.05) compared to controls (200.2 ± 33.7 and 191.6 ± 32.2 vs. 152.2 ± 15.7 ORAC units, respectively). The urethane-treated MAK-4, MAK-5 and MAK4+5-fed mice had significantly higher activities of liver cytosolic enzymes compared to the urethane-treated controls and to untreated mice: GPX(0.23 ± 0.08, 0.21 ± 0.05, 0.25 ± 0.04, 0.20 ± 0.05, 0.21 ± 0.03 U/mg protein, respectively), GST (2.0 ± 0.4, 2.0 ± 0.6, 2.1 ± 0.3, 1.7 ± 0.2, 1.7 ± 0.2 U/mg protein, respectively) and QR (0.13 ± 0.02, 0.12 ± 0.06, 0.15 ± 0.03, 0.1 ± 0.04, 0.11 ± 0.03 U/mg protein, respectively). Livers of MAK-treated mice showed a time-dependent increased expression of cx32.


Our results show that a MAK-supplemented diet inhibits liver carcinogenesis in urethane-treated mice. The prevention of excessive oxidative damage and the up-regulation of connexin expression are two of the possible effects of these products.