Litsea elliptica Blume leaves have been traditionally used as medicinal herbs because of its antimutagenicity, chemopreventative and insecticidal properties. In this study, the toxic effects of L. elliptica essential oil against Sprague-Dawley rat's red blood cells (RBCs) were evaluated. L. elliptica essential oil was given by oral gavage 5 times per week for 3 treated groups in the doses of 125, 250, and 500 mg/(kg body weight), respectively, and the control group received distilled water. Full blood count, RBC osmotic fragility, RBC morphological changes, and RBC membrane lipid were analyzed 28 d after the treatment. Although L. elliptica essential oil administration had significantly different effects on hemoglobin (Hb), mean cell hemoglobin concentration (MCHC), mean cell volume (MCV), and mean cell hemoglobin (MCH) in the experimental groups as compared to the control group (P<0.05), the values were still within the normal range. L. elliptica induced morphological changes of RBC into the form of echinocyte. The percentage of echinocyte increased significantly among the treated groups in a dose-response manner (P<0.001). The concentrations of RBC membrane phospholipids and cholesterol of all treated groups were significantly lower than those of control group (P<0.001). However, the RBC membrane osmotic fragility and total proteins of RBC membrane findings did not differ significantly between control and treated groups (P>0.05). It is concluded that structural changes in the RBC membrane due to L. elliptica essential oil administration did not cause severe membrane damage.
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