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1.  Glycyrrhizic Acid in the Treatment of Liver Diseases: Literature Review 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:872139.
Glycyrrhizic acid (GA) is a triterpene glycoside found in the roots of licorice plants (Glycyrrhiza glabra). GA is the most important active ingredient in the licorice root, and possesses a wide range of pharmacological and biological activities. GA coupled with glycyrrhetinic acid and 18-beta-glycyrrhetic acid was developed in China or Japan as an anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antiallergic drug for liver disease. This review summarizes the current biological activities of GA and its medical applications in liver diseases. The pharmacological actions of GA include inhibition of hepatic apoptosis and necrosis; anti-inflammatory and immune regulatory actions; antiviral effects; and antitumor effects. This paper will be a useful reference for physicians and biologists researching GA and will open the door to novel agents in drug discovery and development from Chinese herbs. With additional research, GA may be more widely used in the treatment of liver diseases or other conditions.
doi:10.1155/2014/872139
PMCID: PMC4052927  PMID: 24963489
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
3.  Yiguanjian decoction and its ingredients inhibit angiogenesis in carbon tetrachloride-induced cirrhosis mice 
Background
Cirrhosis is associated with angiogenesis and disruption of hepatic vascular architecture. Yiguanjian (YGJ) decoction, a prescription from traditional Chinese medicine, is widely used for treating liver diseases. We studied whether YGJ or its ingredients (iYGJ) had an anti-angiogenic effect and explored possible mechanisms underlying this process.
Methods
Cirrhosis was induced with carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) (ip) in C57BL/6 mice for 6 weeks. From week 4 to week 6, cirrhotic mice were randomly divided into four groups: sorafenib-treated, YGJ-treated and iYGJ-treated mice and placebo. Serum biochemistries, hydroxyproline (Hyp) content and histopathological changes of hepatic tissues were measured as were α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), collagen I, CD31, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), VEGF receptor (VEGFR) 2 and hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α.
Results
Both YGJ and iYGJ improved serum biochemistries. Changes of histopathology showed that YGJ and iYGJ reduced hepatic tissue necroinflammatory and collagen fiber deposition in cirrhosis mice. Compared to the CCl4 treated animals, Hyp, α-SMA, collagen I, CD31, VEGF, VEGFR, and HIF-1α expression decreased in YGJ and iYGJ groups.
Conclusions
YGJ and iYGJ inhibited liver angiogenesis in cirrhotic mice treated with CCl4 by inhibiting the HIF-1α/VEGF signaling pathway, suggesting that anti-angiogenic effects of YGJ and iYGJ are associated with improving the hepatic hypoxic microenvironment.
doi:10.1186/s12906-015-0862-6
PMCID: PMC4591631  PMID: 26427787
Cirrhosis; Angiogenesis; Yiguanjian
4.  Yin-Chen-Hao-Tang alleviates biliary obstructive cirrhosis in rats by inhibiting biliary epithelial cell proliferation and activation 
Pharmacognosy Magazine  2015;11(42):417-425.
Background:
Yin-Chen-Hao-Tang (YCHT) consists of three aqueous extracts from Artemisia capillaris, Gardenia sp., and prepared Rheum rhabarbarum (rhubarb) (3:2:1). YCHT is characterized by its anti-inflammatory properties in liver regulation and relief of jaundice. We aimed to study the effects and mechanisms of action of YCHT on biliary obstructive cirrhosis.
Materials and Methods:
Secondary biliary fibrosis was induced in rats by bile duct ligation (BDL) and scission. One week after BDL, rats were randomly divided into a saline-treated BDL or YCHT-treated BDL group for 4 weeks. Liver function and hepatic hydroxyproline (Hyp) content were assessed. Types I and IV collagen (Col-IV), laminin, fibronectin, alpha smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), and proliferating cell nuclear antigen protein and messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) expression were assessed with immunohistochemistry and real-time polymerase chain reaction.
Results:
In the YCHT-treated BDL group, serum total bilirubin, total bile acids, aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, and γ-glutamyl transferase were lower than those in the sham-operated BDL group. The proliferation of bile ducts in hepatic tissues and the Hyp content and Col deposition were also significantly lower than those in control rats. In addition, α-SMA and Col-IV staining was less obvious, and mRNA expression of Procol-α1 (IV), platelet derived growth factor subunit B (PDGF)-B, connective tissue growth factor, and transforming growth factor-beta in proliferative biliary epithelial cells (BECs) in the YCHT-treated BDL group was significantly lower than those in controls.
Conclusions:
YCHT effectively reduces the formation of biliary obstructive cirrhosis mainly via inhibition of BEC proliferation by down-regulation of PDGF-B mRNA expression, inhibition of BEC profibrogenic paracrines, and the epithelial-mesenchymal transition pathological process.
doi:10.4103/0973-1296.153098
PMCID: PMC4378143  PMID: 25829784
Biliary epithelium cells; biliary obstructive cirrhosis; platelet derived growth factor subunit B; Yin-Chen-Hao-Tang
5.  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

Results 1-5 (5)