Glycyrrhetinic acid prevents acetaminophen-induced acute liver injury via the inhibition of CYP2E1 expression and HMGB1-TLR4 signal activation in mice

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Acetaminophen (APAP) is a widely used antipyretic and analgesic drug, which is safe and effective at the therapeutic dose. Unfortunately, excessive dosage of APAP could cause severe liver injury due to lack of effective therapy. Successful therapeutic strategies are urgently requested in clinic. Glycyrrhetinic acid (GA), derived from a traditional medicine licorice, has been shown to exert anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions. In this study, the effect and the underlying mechanism of GA on APAP-induced hepatotoxicity were explored. Our results showed that pretreatment with GA significantly reduced serum ALT and AST activities, alleviated hepatic pathological damages with hepatocellular apoptosis, down-regulated expression of CYP2E1 mRNA and protein, increased GSH levels, and reduced reactive oxygen species (ROS) productions in the liver of APAP-exposed mice. Furthermore, GA obviously inhibited APAP-induced HMGB1-TLR4 signal activation, as evaluated by reduced hepatic HMGB1 release, p-IRAK1, p-MAPK and p-IκB expression as well as the productions of TNF-α and IL-1β. In addition, GA attenuated hepatic neutrophils recruitment and macrophages infiltration caused by APAP. These findings reflected that GA could alleviate APAP-induced hepatotoxicity, the possible mechanism is associated with down-regulation of CYP2E1 expression and deactivation of HMGB1-TLR4 signal pathway.

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