TIANJIN, China-- Hawthorn extract has antioxidant effects that may help fight cataract development, according to a new study (Biol Trace Elem Res. ePub 2010 Jul 2. DOI: 10.1007/s12011-010-8752-8). A research team from the Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine looked to evaluate the anticataract potential of Crataegus pinnatifida (hawthorn tree) leaf extract in vivo and its antioxidant effects in vitro. The in vitro antioxidant assay found the extract strongly inhibited aldose reductase and nitric oxide (NO) production, while showing oxygen radical scavenging activities; the team attributed the activity to nine major flavonoids found in the leaf extract.
Based on the in vitro results, the researchers prepared C. pinnatifida leaf extract eye drops in an 0.1 percent hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose solution. The eye drops were administered three times per day in rat pups undergoing selenite-induced oxidative ocular stress. Hawthorn extract increased serum superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT) antioxidant enzyme activity, and reduced malondialdehyde (MDA) oxidation levels compared with control animals. Further, activity of SOD, CAT and glutathione in the lens was significantly increased.