<p>Abstract</p> <p>Background</p> <p>The babassu palm tree is native to Brazil and is most densely distributed in the Cocais region of the state of Maranhão, in northeastern Brazil. In addition to the industrial use of refined babassu oil, the milk, the unrefined oil and the nuts <it>in natura</it> are used by families from several communities of African descendants as one of the principal sources of food energy. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of babassu oil on microvascular permeability and leukocyte-endothelial interactions induced by ischemia/reperfusion using the hamster cheek pouch microcirculation as experimental model.</p> <p>Methods</p> <p>Twice a day for 14 days, male hamsters received unrefined babassu oil (0.02 ml/dose [BO-2 group], 0.06 ml/dose [BO-6 group], 0.18 ml/dose [BO-18 group]) or mineral oil (0.18 ml/dose [MO group]). Observations were made in the cheek pouch and macromolecular permeability increase induced by ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) or topical application of histamine, as well as leukocyte-endothelial interaction after I/R were evaluated.</p> <p>Results</p> <p>The mean value of I/R-induced microvascular leakage, determined during reperfusion, was significantly lower in the BO-6 and BO-18 groups than in the MO one (<it>P</it> < 0.001). In addition, histamine-induced increase of microvascular permeability was significantly less pronounced in BO groups compared to MO one. No significant differences among groups in terms of leukocyte adhesion, concentrations of tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin 1, and interleukin 6 were found.</p> <p>Conclusions</p> <p>Our findings suggest that unrefined babassu oil reduced microvascular leakage and protected against histamine-induced effects in postcapillary venules and highlights that these almost unexploited nut and its oil might be secure sources of food energy.</p
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