Protective effects of yangonin from an edible botanical Kava against lithocholic acid-induced cholestasis and hepatotoxicity

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Accumulation of toxic bile acids in liver could cause cholestasis and liver injury. The purpose of the current study is to evaluate the hepatoprotective effect of yangonin, a product isolated from an edible botanical Kava against lithocholic acid (LCA)-induced cholestasis, and further to elucidate the involvement of farnesoid X receptor (FXR) in the anticholestatic effect using in vivo and in vitro experiments. The cholestatic liver injury model was established by intraperitoneal injections of LCA in C57BL/6 mice. Serum biomarkers and H&E staining were used to identify the amelioration of cholestasis after yangonin treatment. Mice hepatocytes culture, gene silencing experiment, real-time PCR and Western blot assay were used to elucidate the mechanisms underlying yangonin hepatoprotection. The results indicated that yangonin promoted bile acid efflux and reduced hepatic uptake via an induction in FXR-target genes Bsep, Mrp2 expression and an inhibition in Ntcp, all of which are responsible for bile acid transport. Furthermore, yangonin reduced bile acid synthesis through repressing FXR-target genes Cyp7a1 and Cyp8b1, and increased bile acid metabolism through an induction in gene expression of Sult2a1, which are involved in bile acid synthesis and metabolism. In addition, yangonin suppressed liver inflammation through repressing inflammation-related gene NF-κB, TNF-α and IL-1β. In vitro evidences showed that the changes in transporters and enzymes induced by yangonin were abrogated when FXR was silenced. In conclusions, yangonin produces protective effect against LCA-induced hepatotoxity and cholestasis due to FXR-mediated regulation. Yangonin may be an effective approach for the prevention against cholestatic liver diseases.

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