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1.  Ingredients of Huangqi decoction slow biliary fibrosis progression by inhibiting the activation of the transforming growth factor-beta signaling pathway 
Background
Huangqi decoction was first described in Prescriptions of the Bureau of Taiping People's Welfare Pharmacy in Song Dynasty (AD 1078), and it is an effective recipe that is usually used to treat consumptive disease, anorexia, and chronic liver diseases. Transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGFβ1) plays a key role in the progression of liver fibrosis, and Huangqi decoction and its ingredients (IHQD) markedly ameliorated hepatic fibrotic lesions induced by ligation of the common bile duct (BDL). However, the mechanism of IHQD on hepatic fibrotic lesions is not yet clear. The purpose of the present study is to elucidate the roles of TGFβ1 activation, Smad-signaling pathway, and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) in the pathogenesis of biliary fibrosis progression and the antifibrotic mechanism of IHQD.
Methods
A liver fibrosis model was induced by ligation of the common bile duct (BDL) in rats. Sham-operation was performed in control rats. The BDL rats were randomly divided into two groups: the BDL group and the IHQD group. IHQD was administrated intragastrically for 4 weeks. At the end of the fifth week after BDL, animals were sacrificed for sampling of blood serum and liver tissue. The effect of IHQD on the TGFβ1 signaling pathway was evaluated by western blotting and laser confocal microscopy.
Results
Decreased content of hepatic hydroxyproline and improved liver function and histopathology were observed in IHQD rats. Hepatocytes, cholangiocytes, and myofibroblasts in the cholestatic liver injury released TGFβ1, and activated TGFβ1 receptors can accelerate liver fibrosis. IHQD markedly inhibited the protein expression of TGFβ1, TGFβ1 receptors, Smad3, and p-ERK1/2 expression with no change of Smad7 expression.
Conclusion
IHQD exert significant therapeutic effects on BDL-induced fibrosis in rats through inhibition of the activation of TGFβ1-Smad3 and TGFβ1-ERK1/2 signaling pathways.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-33
PMCID: PMC3419610  PMID: 22471627
Ingredients of Huangqi decoction; Cholestatic liver fibrosis; Transforming growth factor beta 1; Smad-signaling pathway, Extracellular signal-regulated kinase
2.  Preventive effects of 1,25-(OH)2VD3 against ConA-induced mouse hepatitis through promoting vitamin D receptor gene expression 
Acta Pharmacologica Sinica  2010;31(6):703-708.
Aim:
To investigate the immunosuppressive effects of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25-(OH)2VD3) on concanavalin A (ConA)-induced hepatitis and elucidate the action mechanism.
Methods:
Female BALB/C mice were intravenously administered ConA (20 mg/kg) to induce acute immunological liver injury. Liver damage was evaluated in respect to serum alanine transaminase (ALT) level and liver histological changes. The proliferation of splenocytes was measured by using [3H]-thymidine incorporation. The cytokine level in the cultured splenocyte supernatant was determined by using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs). The percentage of different splenic T cell subtypes was analyzed by using flow cytometry. The expression of splenic vitamin D receptor (VDR) mRNA and protein was detected by using real-time qRT-PCR and Western blot, respectively.
Results:
1,25-(OH)2VD3 (2.5 μg/kg, ip) significantly decreased the serum ALT levels and markedly attenuated the histological liver damage. The beneficial effect of 1,25-(OH)2VD3 was associated with: (i) inhibition of CD4+ T cell activation; (ii) reduction of interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and elevation of both IL-4 and IL-5 in supernatants of cultured splenocytes; and (iii) elimination of activated T cells by increasing VDR mRNA and protein expression in the spleen.
Conclusion:
1,25-(OH)2VD3 had a significant protective effect against ConA-induced hepatitis, and its mechanism of action was associated with down-regulation of T cell-mediated immunity and up-regulation of VDR gene expression.
doi:10.1038/aps.2010.53
PMCID: PMC4002975  PMID: 20523341
1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3; concanavalin A; hepatitis; vitamin D receptor; interferon-γ; interleukin 4; interleukin 5

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