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The study aimed to evaluate the effects of quercetin and vitamin C on cadmium (Cd)-induced toxicity in rats using a sub-chronic, orally exposed model. The products of lipid peroxidation, malondialdehyde, were monitored as biomarkers of oxidative stress. In addition, tissue Cd and histopathological changes in the kidney, liver and testis were evaluated. In Cd-treated rats, accumulation of Cd in the tissues was increased in a dose-dependent manner, in which co-administration with either quercetin or vitamin C had no effect. The higher dose of Cd treatment resulted in a significant increase in MDA levels in the kidney, suggesting an organ under a greater degree of oxidative stress. In the presence of quercetin or vitamin C, the kidney MDA levels were attenuated, particularly in the rats receiving 100 ppm Cd. In the liver, the MDA levels were not markedly altered among Cd-treated groups; nonetheless, treatment with vitamin C resulted in a noted reduction in MDA levels. Interestingly, administration of either quercetin or vitamin C appeared to increase the oxidative stress biomarkers in the testis. Histopathological examinations also revealed damages in the kidney, liver and testis upon Cd exposure. Supplemented with quercetin slightly reduced the liver damage; conversely, co-administration with vitamin C led to tissue damage. In conclusion, it was suggested that Cd induced a marked increase in oxidative stress and pathological changes in critical organs, particularly the kidney and testis. Quercetin showed beneficial activities in the liver regarding reducing the oxidative stress marker and tissue damage.
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