Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2017-01-01)

Protective Effect of 18β-Glycyrrhetinic Acid against Triptolide-Induced Hepatotoxicity in Rats

  • Guanghua Yang,
  • Lan Wang,
  • Xiuting Yu,
  • Yanfeng Huang,
  • Chang Qu,
  • Zhenbiao Zhang,
  • Dandan Luo,
  • Ji Lin,
  • Lian Zhou,
  • Ziren Su,
  • Xiaojun Zhang,
  • Haiming Chen

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 2017


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Triptolide (TP) is the major active component of Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F (TWHF) and possesses multiple pharmacological effects. However, hepatotoxicity of TP which is one of the toxic properties slows its progression in clinical application. 18β-Glycyrrhetinic acid (GA) is the main bioactive ingredient of Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra L.), a herbal medicine famous for its detoxification. This study aims to investigate whether GA possesses protective effect against TP-induced hepatotoxicity in rats. TP interference markedly elevated serum levels of ALT, AST, and ALP, caused evident liver histopathological changes, and elevated hepatic TNF-α, IL-6, IL-1β, and IFN-γ as well as nuclear translocation of NF-κB. TP also significantly elevated liver MDA and declined hepatic activities of SOD, CAT, and GSH-Px. Assay of TUNEL and apoptosis proteins (Bax, Bcl-2, and active caspase-3) showed that TP induced severe hepatocellular apoptosis. In contrast, low-dose GA (50 mg/kg) significantly reversed TP-induced changes above. However, high-dose GA (100 mg/kg) had no such effect. Overall, these findings indicated that low-dose GA but not high-dose GA exhibited a protective effect against TP-induced hepatotoxicity in rats by anti-inflammation, antioxidation, and antiapoptosis, which suggests that the doses of GA/Licorice should be carefully considered when used together with TWHF or TWHF preparations.