Cigarette smoking has been associated with an increase in oxidative stress (OS) and is considered a predisposing factor to chronic noncommunicable diseases, whilst dietary antioxidants has been proposed as an alternative to cope with this oxidative stress. In this study, 20 smokers and 20 non-smokers were studied with the aim of determining their antioxidant status, as well as the ability of an infusion of 23 medicinal plants, to counteract the damage caused by OS. The plasma, red blood cells (RBCs) and polymorphonuclear cells (PBMCs) of both groups were incubated or not with the horchata infusion extract and then the OS markers, genotoxicity, nanostructure of RBCs membrane and genes related to oxidative responses and cellular functionality were evaluated. Up to 33 different compounds, mainly quercetin glycosides, were identified in the extract. A significant deterioration in the antioxidant status in smokers compared to non-smokers was found. The horchata infusion extract improved the nanostructure of RBCs and DNA damage, as well as the activity of the endogenous antioxidant enzymes and markers of oxidative damage to lipid, and proteins in plasma, RBCs and PBMCs in both groups, whilst no significant changes were found in the expression of different genes related to OS response.
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