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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter October 26, 2019

The impact of Crocus sativus stigma against methotrexate-induced liver toxicity in rats

  • Reyhane Hoshyar , Ahmadreza Sebzari , Mohadeseh Balforoush , Masoomeh Valavi and Mehran Hosseini ORCID logo EMAIL logo



The adverse effects of methotrexate (MTX) mainly hepatotoxicity restrict its clinical use. This study was designed to investigate the protective effects of saffron (Crocus sativus) (CS) extract on MTX-induced hepatotoxicity.


Twenty-eight male Wistar rats randomly divided into four equal groups. Except for control, all groups received a single intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection of MTX on the 3rd day of study. The CS extract was given (80 mg/kg i.p.) to rats 3 days before MTX and continued for the next 7 days (Pre&Post-CS group) or administrated after MTX injection and lasted for 7 days (Post-CS group). On the 11th day, all rats were sacrificed and their plasma levels of liver enzymes including aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) were determined. Also, liver histopathology and hepatic levels of malondialdehyde (MDA), nitric oxide (NO) and super oxidase dismutase (SOD) were evaluated.


The results showed that MTX significantly incremented plasma levels of AST, ALT, ALP and LDH (all p<0.001) and hepatic MDA and NO levels; whereas, decreased SOD activity. Histological alterations such as early fatty changes were evident in the MTX group. Administration of CS extract at both methods could ameliorate liver enzyme elevation, oxidative/nitrosative stresses and morphological alterations of the liver. Pre-and-post treatment with CS extract showed better protective effects than only post-treatment.


The present findings provide showing CS could effectively alleviate MTX-induced hepatotoxicity in rats. Further investigations are recommended to determine the exact mechanisms underlying the hepatoprotective potential of saffron.


This work was financially supported by Birjand University of Medical Sciences (Grant number: 455638).

  1. Author contributions: All the authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this submitted manuscript and approved submission.

  2. Research funding: Birjand University of Medical Sciences (Grant number: 455638).

  3. Employment or leadership: None declared.

  4. Honorarium: None declared.

  5. Competing interests: The authors have no financial or nonfinancial conflicts of interest to declare.


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Received: 2019-07-26
Accepted: 2019-08-15
Published Online: 2019-10-26

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