Liquiritigenin and liquiritin alleviated MCT-induced HSOS by activating Nrf2 antioxidative defense system

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Hepatic sinusoidal obstruction syndrome (HSOS) is a serious and life-threatening liver disease. Liquiritigenin (LG) and liquiritin (LQ) are natural flavonoids distributed in Glycyrrhizae Radix et Rhizoma (Gan-cao). This study aims to investigate the protective effect and mechanism of LG and LQ against monocrotaline (MCT)-induced HSOS. Results of serum alanine/aspartate aminotransferases (ALT/AST) activities, liver histological evaluation and scanning electron microscope observation, and hepatic metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) expression demonstrated that LG and LQ both alleviated HSOS induced by MCT in rats. Results of hepatic reactive oxygen species (ROS), malondialdehyde (MDA), 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE), oxidized glutathione (GSSG) and reduced glutathione (GSH) contents, glutathione reductase (GR) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) activities showed that LG and LQ attenuated MCT-induced liver oxidative stress injury. Furthermore, LG and LQ were found to promote Nrf2 nuclear translocation and lead to the increased expression of Nrf2 downstream antioxidative genes. Molecule docking analysis indicated the potential interaction of LG and LQ with Nrf2 binding site in the kelch-like ECH-associated protein-1 (Keap1) protein. Finally, Nrf2 knock-out mice were used. The results showed that LG and LQ both alleviated MCT-induced HSOS in wild-type mice, but such protection was totally diminished in Nrf2 knock-out mice. In conclusion, our study revealed that LG and LQ alleviated MCT-induced HSOS by inducing the activation of hepatic Nrf2 antioxidative defense system.

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