Saffron extracts alleviate cardiomyocytes injury induced by doxorubicin and ischemia-reperfusion in vitro

Nathalie Chahine, Moni Nader, Laurent Duca, Laurent Martiny, Ramez Chahine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Doxorubicin (DOX), a highly active chemotherapeutic drug, faces limitations in clinical application due to severe cardiotoxic effects (mainly through increased oxidative stress). Therefore, its effect is exacerbated in subjects with ischemic heart disease. We have recently reported that saffron extract (SAF), a natural compound mainly consisting of safranal and corcins, exerts a protective effect against DOX oxidative cytotoxicity in isolated rabbit hearts. Here, we aimed to investigate whether SAF exerts cardioprotection against combined ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) and DOX toxicity in H9c2 cardiomyocytes. H9c2 were subjected to simulated I/R, with or without DOX treatment at reperfusion, in the presence or absence of SAF prior to ischemia or at reperfusion. We evaluated the effects of these treatments by MTT, LDH and western blot analysis. Apoptosis was assessed by Hoechst 33258 staining, tetramethyl rhodamine methyl ester fluorescence and caspase activity. The results showed that I/R and DOX significantly decreased cardiomyocytes viability, inhibited reperfusion injury salvage kinase cardioprotective pathway, reduced contractile proteins (α-Actinine, Troponine C and MLC), increased caspase-3 expression and induced loss of mitochondrial membrane potential. These effects were remarkably inhibited by treatment with SAF (10 μg/mL) at reperfusion. SAF activated AKT/P70S6K and ERK1/2, restored contractile proteins expression, inhibited mitochondrial permeability transition pore and decreased caspase-3 activity. In conclusion, our findings indicate that SAF treatment exerted cardioprotection against I/R and DOX toxicity by reducing oxidative stress (LDH assay). Thereby, SAF offers a potential novel antioxidant therapeutic strategy to counteract I/R and DOX cardiotoxicity, paving the way for future clinical trials.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)87-96
Number of pages10
JournalDrug and Chemical Toxicology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2016


  • Antioxidant
  • cardiotoxicity
  • doxorubicin
  • free radicals
  • H9c2 cells
  • myocardial ischemia-reperfusion
  • saffron extract


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