Background: Persistent activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSC-T6) has been known to cause liver fibrosis. In this study, our objective was to investigate the effects of chebulagic acid and chebulinic acid, two hydrolysable tannins of tropical almond (Terminalia chebula) fruits, on collagen synthesis and signal transduction in transforming growth factor-β1-stimulated HSC-T6 cells. The expression of Smad2, Smad3, Smad4, collagen I(α1)/III, and plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 (PAI-1) mRNAs was determined by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction and their protein levels were assessed by western blotting. Results: Results showed that chebulagic acid and chebulinic acid at 20 μmol L -1 exhibited cytotoxic and anti-proliferative effects on HSC-T6 cells. They also significantly decreased the expression of Smd2, Smad3 and Smad4, and the synthesis of collagen, procollagen I (α1) and III, as well as suppressing the activation of PAI-1; these events consequently facilitated the resolution of fibrosis. Conclusion: These results indicate that both chebulagic acid and chebulinic acid possess antifibrotic activity, and their mechanism of action could be through the inhibition of the Smad pathway.
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