Tacrolimus is a powerful immunosuppressive agent with hepatotoxic and nephrotoxic effects. It has a protective role against many toxicants. This study was conducted to evaluate the possible protective role of spirulina against tacrolimus induced hepatotoxicity and nephrotoxicity. Forty adult male albino rats divided into 4 groups. Group I, control group, Group II, spirulina group (received spirulina 500 mg/Kg body weight (bw)/day orally), Group III, tacrolimus group (received tacrolimus 12 mg/kg bw/day orally); and Group VI, prophylactic group (orally administered spirulina for 3 days before and 28 days concurrently with tacrolimus in the same previous doses). Tacrolimus induced adverse effects on both liver and kidney functions and structure that was manifested by elevated hepatic transaminases, total and direct bilirubin, albumin, blood urea nitrogen, serum creatinine and creatinine clearance. There was a significant decrease in serum total antioxidant capacity (TAC) and hepatic and renal total thiol molecules (TTM), with a significant increase in serum malondialdehyde in tacrolimus group. Histopathologically, tacrolimus induced swelling and granulation of hepatocytes, congestion of blood sinusoids and degeneration of bile ductiles, glomerular hypertrophy and segmentation, swelling, degeneration and hyalinosis of renal tubules. Spirulina pre- and co-treatment significantly improved these deleterious effects. This was accompanied by partial restoration of the expression of PCNA near to the normal level observed in control rats. Moreover, spirulina treatment did not alter the trough blood tacrolimus levels or tacrolimus-induced immunosuppression. Further studies are warranted to evaluate whether transplant patients on tacrolimus treatment may benefit from the protective effects of spirulina.
Key words: Antioxidant, malondialdehyde (MDA), total antioxidant capacity (TAC), tacrolimus, total thiol molecules (TTM), proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), spirulina.
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