Voluntary Ingestion of Natural Cocoa Extenuated Hepatic Damage in Rats with Experimentally Induced Chronic Alcoholic Toxicity
Background: Chronic ethanol ingestion causes hepatic damage imputable to an increased oxidative stress engendered by alcoholic toxicity. Polyphenols in cocoa have antioxidant properties, and natural cocoa powder (NCP) contains the highest levels of total antioxidant capacity when compared to all other kinds of edible cocoa products. This study tested the hypothesis that dietary supplementation with NCP mitigates hepatic injury resulting from chronic ethanol consumption. Three groups of eight randomized Sprague-Dawley rats were fed standard rat food and treated daily for 12 weeks as follows: (i) the Ethanol-water group was given unrestricted access to 40% (v/v) ethanol for 12 hours (at night) followed by water for the remaining 12 hours (daytime), (ii) the Ethanol-cocoa group had similarly unrestricted access to 40% ethanol for 12 hours followed by 2% (w/v) NCP for 12 hours, and (iii) the control group was not given alcohol and had unrestricted access to only water which was synchronously replenished every 12 hours as it was for the ethanol treated animals.
Results: Qualitative structural liver damage evidenced by hepatocyte cytoplasmic fatty accumulation, nuclear alterations, and disruption of general liver micro-architecture, was severe in the ethanol-water group when compared with the ethanol-cocoa group of rats. Design-based stereologic assessment yielded a significantly greater volume (Tukey’s HSD, p = 0.0005) of undamaged hepatocytes (9.61 ml, SD 2.18 ml) in the ethanol-cocoa group as opposed to the ethanol-water group of rats (2.34 ml, SD 1.21 ml). Control rats had 10.34 ml (SD 1.47 ml) of undamaged hepatocytes, and that was not significantly greater (Tukey’s HSD, p=0.659) than the value for the ethanol-cocoa group of rats. Relative to controls, therefore, histomorphometry showed 93% hepatocyte preservation from alcoholic injury in rats that voluntarily imbibed NCP suspension compared with 23% in animals that drank water.
Conclusions: Ethanol-induced structural liver injury was qualitatively and quantitatively milder in rats which chronically imbibed alcohol then afterward drank NCP beverage in place of water. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of polyphenols in NCP are postulated in mitigating the damage of rat liver due to chronic ethanol consumption. Thus, it is suggested from these findings that regular drinking of NCP beverage may slow progression of alcoholic liver disease in dipsomaniacs.
Key words: natural cocoa powder, chronic alcoholic toxicity, total antioxidant capacity, polyphenols
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Copyright (c) 2012 Godwin Sokpor, Frederick Kwaku Addai, Richard Kwasi Gyasi, Kwasi Agyei Bugyei, John Ahenkorah, Bismarck Hottor
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