Lead (Pb) poisoning and the role of antioxidants in its pathologies especially their oxidative tendencies on the central nervous system is well documented. The effect of a natural antioxidant-Ocimum gratissimum (ocimum) - in modulating neurodegenerative changes in rats experimentally fed with high concentration of Pb acetate was investigated. Standard laboratory methods were employed to determine blood Pb levels and glutathione activity in the homogenized brain tissue of the experimental animals. Rats fed Pb showed significantly (P<0.05) high blood Pb levels (22.86±2.38 µg/dl) relative to the control (10.71±0.92 µg/dl) not fed extract of Ocimum. Significant (P<0.05) reduction of blood Pb levels was observed in rats fed with 10mg/ml extract of Ocimum (16.38±2.39 µg/dl) as against levels in Pb-induced rats (22.86±2.38 µg/dl). Reduced glutathione activity was enhanced by the administration of ocimum extract in the experimental rats. Lipid peroxidation due to neurotoxic changes was observed in the brain tissue of rats fed with high concentration of Pb while the neurodegenerative modulating effect of ocimum extract was observed in the group of rats supplemented with the extract. Thus, extracts of this plant after proper standardization could be a good supplement in the management of neurodegenerative changes occasioned by excessive Pb ingestion in children with Pb encephalopathy.
Key words: Aqueous extract, Ocimum gratissimum, oxidative stress, neurotoxic, lead acetate.
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