Tu-Si-Zi, the seeds of Cuscuta chinensis Lam. (Convolvulaceae), is a traditional Chinese medicine that is commonly used to nourish and improve the liver and kidney conditions in China and other Asian countries. As oxidative stress promotes the development of acetaminophen (APAP)-induced hepatotoxicity, the aim of the present study was to evaluate and compare the hepatoprotective effect and antioxidant activities of the aqueous and ethanolic extracts of C chinensis on APAP-induced hepatotoxicity in rats. The C chinensis ethanolic extract at an oral dose of both 125 and 250 mg/kg showed a significant hepatoprotective effect relatively to the same extent (P <0.05) by reducing levels of glutamate oxaloacetate transaminase (GOT), glutamate pyruvate transaminase (GPT), and alkaline phosphatase (ALP). In addition, the same ethanolic extract prevented the hepatotoxicity induced by APAP-intoxicated treatment as observed when assessing the liver histopathology. Regarding the antioxidant activity, C chinensis ethanolic extract exhibited a significant effect (P <0.05) by increasing levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and glutathione peroxidase (GPx), and by reducing malondialdehyde (MDA) levels. In contrast, the same doses of the aqueous extract of C chinensis did not present any hepatoprotective effect as seen in the ethanolic extract, and resulted in further liver deterioration. In conclusion, these data suggest that the ethanolic extract of Cuscuta chinensis can prevent hepatic injuries from APAP-induced hepatotoxicity in rats and this is likely mediated through its antioxidant activities.
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