Histological, ultrastructural and biochemical studies on the kidney of mice treated with Carthamus tinctorius L. extract

Document Type: Original Research Article


Department of Basic Sciences, Faculty of Para-Veterinary Medicine, University of Ilam, Ilam, I. R. Iran


Objective: Carthamus tinctorius L.(C. tinctorius) is used as a food additive but also has medicinal applications. The present work was designed to investigate its probable side effects on the histology and function of the kidney in the mice.
Materials and Methods: Sixty adult Balb/C mice were randomly distributed into one control and three experimental groups. The control group received only distilled water, while experimental groups were administered intraperitoneally C. tinctorius at doses of 0.7, 1.4, and 2.8 mg/kg for 49 consecutive days. In the end of experiments after blood sampling, the biochemical analyses of plasma were performed. Tissue samples were also taken and structural alterations were examined using light and electron microscopes.
Results: There were histological changes included decreasing in the diameter of glomerules, increase of proximal tubular lumen, tubular necrosis, leuckocyte infiltration, and massive congestion in the kidney of the 1.4 and 2.8 mg/kg C. tinctorius groups. Moreover, ultrastructural study revealed destruction of the glomerular basement membrane, shrinkage of podocyte΄s nucleus, and reduction in the number and size of microvilli in epithelial cells of renal tubules. Furthermore, the levels of creatinine in the plasma of 1.4 and 2.8 mg/kg C. tinctorius groups showed a significant increase in comparison with the control group (p<0.05).
Conclusion: It is concluded that C. tinctorius extract exposure at doses of 1.4 and 2.8 mg/kg has harmful effects on the renal tissue and therefore, popular consumption of this plant should be reconsidered.


Bahmanpour S, Vojdani Z, Panjehshahin MR, Hoballah H, Kassas H. 2012. Effects of Carthamus tinctorius on Semen Quality and Gonadal Hormone Levels in Partially Sterile Male Rats. Korean J Urol. 53: 705-710.

Chen XW, Plasmag ES, Sneed KB, Zhou SF. 2011. Herbal bioactivation, molecular targets and the toxicity relevance. Chem Biol Interact, 15:161-176.

Elias S, Basil S, Kafka R. 2002. Response of safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) to saline soils and irrigation: I. consumptive water use. Agr water manag, 54: 67.

Kumar D, Kumar A, Prakash O. 2012. Potential antifertility agents from plants: A comprehensive review. J Ethnopharmacol, 140: 1-32.

Li Fan, Hai-Yu Z, Man X, Lei Z, Hui G, Jian H, Bao-Rong W, De-An G. 2009. Qualitative evaluation and quantitative determination of 10 major active components in Carthamus tinctorius L. by high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with diode array detector. J Chromat A, 1216: 2063-2070.

Louei Monfared A, Aziziyan H, Bahrami AM, Ahmady Asbejin S. 2012. Developmental toxicity evaluation of methanol extracts of Carthamus tinctorius L. in the Balb/C pregnant mice during organogenesis period. J Med Plants Res, 6:1623-1626.

Louei Monfared A, Salati AP. 2012. The effects of Carthamus tinctorius L. on placental histomorphology and survival of the neonates in mice. Avicenna J Phytomed, 2: 146-152.

Mass EV. 1986. Salt tolerance of plants. Appl Agric Res, 1: 12-26.

Mirhoseini M, Mohamadpour M, Khorsandi L. 2012. Toxic effects of Carthamus tinctorius L. (Safflower) extract on mouse spermatogenesis. J Assist Reprod Genet, 29:  457-461.

Nakamura S, Terashima M, Kikuchi N, Kimura M, Maehara T, Saito A, Sato M. 2004. A new mouse model for renal Lesions produced by intravenous injection of diphtheria toxin A-chain expression plasmid. BMC Nephrol, 5: 11-15.

Nobakht M, Fattahi M, Hoormand M, Milanian I, Rahbar N, Mahmoudian M. 2000. A study on the teratogenic and cytotoxic effects of safflower extract. J Ethnopharmacol, 73: 453-459.

Panda NC. Kidney. In: Talwar GP, Srivastava LM and Moudgil KD, editors. 1989. Textbook of Biochemistry and Human Biology. 2nd ed. India: Prentice-Hall. 276-292.

Reynolds ES. 1963. The use of lead citrate at high pH as an electron-opaque stain in electron microscopy. J Cell Biol, 17: 208-212.

Siddiqi EH, Ashraf M, Hussain M, Jamil A. 2009. Assessment of intercultivar variation for salt tolerance in safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) using gas exchange characteristics as selection criteria. Pak J Bot, 41: 2251-2559.

Suzuki K, Tsubaki S, Fujita M, Koyama N, Takabashi M, Takazawa K. 2010. Effects of safflower seed extract on arterial stiffness. Vasc Health Risk Manag, 6:1007-1014.

Tootian Z, Louei Momfared A, Fazelipour S, Sheibani MT, Rouhollah F, Sasani F, Molaemi E. 2012. Biochemical and structural changes of the kidney in mice exposed to phenol. Turk J Med Sci, 42: 695-703.