Ethnopharmacological evidence: Gexia-Zhuyu Tang (GZT), also called Gexiazhuyu decoction (GXZYD), is a traditional Chinese herbal medicine for chronic liver diseases such as cirrhosis and liver fibrosis. Aim of the study: In this study, we have investigated the affects of GZT on a rat model of dimethylnitrosamine (DMN)-induced liver fibrosis. Materials and methods: In this study, the protective effects of GZT on DMN-induced liver fibrosis were measured using a rat model. Following 5 weeks of DMN-treatment (8 mg/kg, i.p., given 3 consecutive days each week), oral administration of GZT at 1.8 g/kg daily via oral gavage for 2 weeks beginning at week 13. Results: Both body and liver weights were significantly decreased. The reductions in body and liver weights corresponded with increasing liver damage severity. Furthermore, GZT-treatment remarkably decreased the levels of serum GOT (glutamate oxaloacetate transaminase) and GPT (glutamic pyruvic transaminase), and the mRNA expression levels of collagen alpha-1(I) and alpha-smooth muscle actin (alpha-SMA) in DMN-induced hepatic fibrosis. In addition, hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) play a major role in various types of liver fibrosis through initial myofibroblast transformation. The proliferation of HSCs was inhibited by GZT. Treatment with GZT also induced HSC apoptosis in a dose- and time-dependent manner. GZT treatment induced HSC apoptosis by facilitating Ca2 release from the mitochondria within 6 h. Subsequently, caspases 3 and 12 were elevated by 72 h after treatment. Conclusions: Our studies indicate that GZT exhibited both hepatoprotective and antifibrogenic effects in DMN-induced hepatic injury. These findings suggest that GZT may be useful in preventing the development of hepatic fibrosis.
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