Cuscuta chinensis is a commonly used traditional Chinese medicine to nourish the liver and kidney. Due to the poor water solubility of its major constituents such as flavonoids and lignans, its absorption upon oral administration could be limited. The purpose of the present study was to use the nanosuspension method to prepare C. chinensis nanoparticles (CN), and to compare the hepatoprotective and antioxidant effects of C. chinensis ethanolic extract (CE) and CN on acetaminophen-induced hepatotoxicity in rats. An oral dose of CE at 125 and 250 mg/kg and CN at 25 and 50 mg/kg showed a significant hepatoprotective effect relatively to the same extent (P <0.05) by reducing levels of aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, and alkaline phosphatase. These biochemical assessments were supported by rat hepatic biopsy examinations. In addition, the antioxidant activities of CE and CN both significantly increased superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase, and reduced malondialdehyde (P <0.05). Moreover, the results also indicated that the hepatoprotective and antioxidant effects of 50 mg/kg CN was effectively better than 125 mg/kg CE (P <0.05), and an oral dose of CN that is five times as less as CE could exhibit similar levels of outcomes. In conclusion, we suggest that the nanoparticles system can be applied to overcome other water poorly soluble herbal medicines and furthermore to decrease the treatment dosage.
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