Protective effect of Urtica dioica leaf hydro alcoholic extract against experimentally-induced atherosclerosis in rats

Document Type : Original Research Article


1 Department of Pathobiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran

2 Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Department of Basic Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran

3 Department of Clinical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Shiraz University, Shiraz


Objective: Finding compounds that could be used for prevention of atherosclerosis (AS) is highly desired. The present study evaluated the protective effects of Urtica dioica (UD, commonly known as stinging nettle) leaf ethanolic extract against high-fat diet-induced AS in rats.
Materials and Methods: In this study, 40 male adult Sprauge-Dawley rats were randomly allocated to 4 equal groups and treated as follows for 9 consecutive weeks:  (1) Normal control (NC; normal rats that were fed with a basic diet); (2) Atherosclerotic rats (AT; which received no particular treatment); (3) Atherosclerotic rats that received 100 mg/kg/day ethanolic extract of UD orally and (4) Atherosclerotic rats that received simvastatin 4 mg/kg/day orally. Atherosclerosis was induced by a high-fat diet accompanied by propylthiouracil and vitamin D3.
Results: Marked hypercholesterolemia and significant increase in LDL-C/HDL-C ratio were observed in rats of AT group. Administration of UD significantly reduced these parameters as compared to AT group (p Conclusion: Ethanolic extract of UD prevents establishment of atherosclerotic lesions in rat aorta, which is associated with positive effects on serum lipid profile without significantly affecting antioxidant status.


Main Subjects

Abedi Gaballu FAbedi Gaballu YMoazenzade Khyavy OMardomi AGhahremanzadeh KShokouhi BMamandy H. 2015. Effects of a triplex mixture of Peganum harmala, Rhuscoriaria, and Urtica dioica aqueous extracts on metabolic and histological parameters in diabetic rats. Pharm Biol, 53:1104-1109.
Avci G, Kupeli E, Eryavuz A, Yesilada E, Kucukkurt I. 2006. Antihypercholesterolaemic and antioxidant activity assessment of some plants used as remedy in Turkish folk medicine. J Ethnopharmacol, 107:418–423.
Bisht R, Joshi BC, Kalia AN, Prakash A. 2016. Antioxidant-rich fraction of Urticadioica mediated rescue of striatal mito-oxidative damage in MPTP-induced behavioral, cellular, and neurochemical alterations in rats. Mol Neurobiol,  54:5632-5645.
Daher CF, Baroody KG, Baroody GM. 2006. Effect of Urticadioica extract intake upon blood lipid profile in the rats. Fitoterapia, 77: 183–188.
Feron O, Dessy C, Moniotte S, Desager JP, Balligand JL. 1999. Hypercholesterolemia decreases nitric oxide production by promoting the interaction of caveolin and endothelial nitric oxide synthase. J Clin Invest, 103:897–905.
Ghasemi S, Moradzadeh M, Mousavi SH, Sadeghnia HR. 2016. Cytotoxic effects of Urtica dioica radix on human colon (HT29) and gastric (MKN45) cancer cells mediated through oxidative and apoptotic mechanisms. Cell Mol Biol, (Noisy-le-grand)  62:90-96.
Gleissner CA. 2016. Translational atherosclerosis research: From experimental models to coronary artery disease in humans. Atherosclerosis, 248:110-116.
Hu Y, Sun B, Liu K, Yan M, Zhang Y, Miao C, Ren L. 2016. Icariin Attenuates High-cholesterol Diet Induced Atherosclerosis in Rats byInhibition of Inflammatory Response and p38 MAPK Signaling Pathway. Inflammation, 39:228-236.
Joris I, Zand T, Nunnari JJ, Krolikowski FJ,Majno G. 1983. Studies on the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. I. Adhesion and emigration of mononuclear cells in the aorta of hypercholesterolemic rats. Am J Pathol,  113: 341–358.
Kaneider NC, Reinisch CM, Dunzendorfer S, Meierhofer C, Djanani A, Wiedermann CJ. 2001. Induction of apoptosis and inhibition of migration of inflammatory and vascular wall cells by cerivastatin. Atherosclerosis, 158: 23–33.
Kawashima S, Yokoyama M. 2004. Dysfunction of endothelial nitric oxide synthase and atherosclerosis. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol,  24:998-1005.
Khan BV, Parthasarathy SS, Alexander RW, Medford RM. 1995. Modified low density lipoprotein and its constituents augment cytokine-activatedvascular cell adhesion molecule-1 gene expression in human vascular endothelial cells. J Clin Invest, 95:1262-1270.
Leong XF, Ng CY, Jaarin K. 2015. Animal models in cardiovascular research: hypertension and atherosclerosis. Biomed Res Int, doi: 10.1155/2015/528757.
Li H, Horke S, Förstermann U. 2014. Vascular oxidative stress, nitric oxide and atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis, 237:208-219.
Mojab F, Kamalinejad M, Ghaderi N, Vahidpour HR. 2003. Phytochmical screening of some species of Iranian plants. Iran J Pharm Res, 2:77-82.
Namazi N, Tarighat A, Bahrami A. 2012. The effect of hydro alcoholic nettle (Urtica dioica) extract on oxidative stress in patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomized double-blind clinical trial. Pak J Biol Sci, 15:98-102.
Nassiri-Asl M, Zamansoltani F, Abbasi E, Daneshi MM, Zangivand AA. 2009. Effects of Urtica dioica extract on lipid profile in hypercholesterolemic rats. Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Xue Bao, 7:428-433.
Pang J, Xu Q, Xu X, Yin H, Xu R, Guo S, Hao W, Wang L, Chen C, Cao JM. 2010. Hexarelin suppresses high lipid diet and vitamin D3-induced atherosclerosis in the rat. Peptides, 31:630-638.
Rosenson RS. 2004. Statins in atherosclerosis: lipid-lowering agents with antioxidant capabilities. Atherosclerosis, 173:1-12.
Tarighatesfanjani A, Namazi N, Bahrami A. 2012. Effect of hydro alcoholic nettle extract on lipid profiles and blood pressure in type 2 diabetes patients. Iran J Endocrin Met, 13: 449-458.
Weber C, Noels H. 2011. Atherosclerosis: current pathogenesis and therapeutic options. Nat Med, 17:1410-1422.
Zare S,Nabiuni M,  TayanlooA, Hoseini S, Karimzadeh-Bardei L. 2015. The effects of Urtica dioica extract on lipid profile, insulin resistance index and liver histology in polycystic ovary syndrome-induced Wistar rats. Adv herb med 1:23-33.