Puerarin alleviates liver fibrosis via inhibition of the ERK1/2 signaling pathway in thioacetamide-induced hepatic fibrosis in rats.
Exp Ther Med. 2019 Jul ;18(1):133-138. Epub 2019 Apr 30. PMID: 31258646
Liver fibrosis is a complex pathological process and an early step in the progression of liver cirrhosis, which can eventually develop into hepatocellular carcinoma. Currently, there is no effective treatment for liver fibrosis. Puerarin is a traditional Chinese herb, which is commonly used in the treatment of various diseases. In addition, it is also believed to have a therapeutic effect in liver fibrosis. However, whether puerarin reduces liver fibrosis via the ERK1/2 signaling pathway to inhibit the activation of hepatic stellate cell (HSC) and excessive collagen deposition in liver fibrosis remains unknown. The aim of the current study was to establish a liver fibrosismodel by intraperitoneal injection of thioacetamide (TAA) and investigate the effect of puerarin in the treatment of liver fibrosis. Hematoxylin and eosin and Van Gieson's staining were used to examine histopathological changes associated with liver fibrosis. Liver hydroxyproline content was examined to determine the total amount of collagen in the liver. The relative protein expression levels of transforming growth factorβ1 (TGFβ1), α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), collagen type I, fibronectin, ERK1/2 and p-ERK1/2 were determined by western blot analysis. In the TAA group, histopathological changes and collagen fiber content in rat liver tissue samples were significantly increased compared with the control group (P<0.05). In addition, treatment with puerarin significantly decreased histopathological changes and collagen fiber content in rat liver tissue samples (P<0.05). The relative protein expression levels of TGFβ1, α-SMA, collagen type I, fibronectin and p-ERK1/2 were significantly upregulated in the TAA group compared with the control group (P<0.05), whereas puerarin treatment reversed these changes. These findings suggest that treatment with puerarin may reduce HSC activation and alleviate extracellular matrix protein expression levels by inhibiting the TGF-β/ERK1/2 pathway in liver fibrosis.