Ligustrazine prevents alcohol-induced liver injury by attenuating hepatic steatosis and oxidative stress

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Alcoholic liver disease (ALD) is a major etiology of liver diseases, causing heavy health burdens personally and socially. Ligustrazine has been widely used in China due to its extensive pharmacological activities. However, the role of ligustrazine in ALD treatment remains unclear. Thus, this study is aimed to make up this gap and further uncover the potential mechanisms. The present work demonstrated that compared with the alcohol feeding group, ligustrazine-treated groups showed a clear decrease in aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, and lactate dehydrogenase activities in serum, and a great improvement in liver histology. Additionally, ligustrazine reduced the number of foci containing CD45 positive cells and the expression of proteins associated with hepatic inflammation, apoptosis, and fibrosis. Further, ligustrazine obviously abolished alcohol-induced hepatic steatosis and hyperlipidemia. In addition, ligustrazine reversed alcohol-induced overexpression of sterol regulatory element-binding protein-1c and fatty acid synthase, and inhibition of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-alpha and carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1 in liver. Ligustrazine also ameliorated alcohol-induced increases in reactive oxygen species and malondialdehyde levels, and decreases in glutathione, superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione reductase content in liver. Finally, chronic alcohol feeding inhibited the hepatic expression of nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) at both mRNA and protein levels. Ligustrazine promoted Nrf2 expression and nuclear translocation in a dose-dependent manner. Collectively, for the first time, the present study demonstrated that ligustrazine remarkably improved chronic alcohol-induced liver injury by attenuating hepatic steatosis and oxidative stress. Further, Nrf2 activation might be requisite for ligustrazine to exert its protective effects.

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