Polysaccharide-rich Lycium barbarum and Rehmannia glutinosa have been considered to have immune-modulating activity. This study investigated the effects of water extracted Lycium barbarum and Rehmannia glutinosa (HE) on carbon tetrachloride (CCl 4)-induced liver injury in rats. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into: normal diet + peritoneal injection of olive oil (control), normal diet + CCl 4 injection (CCl 4), 1 × HE (0.05% HE for each) + CCl 4 (1 × HE), and 3 × HE (0.15% HE for each) + CCl 4 (3 × HE) groups. Rats were injected with 40% CCl 4 at a dose of 0.75 ml/kg body weight once a week for seven weeks, one week after herbal extract treatment. After eight week herbal extract treatment, pathohistological examination showed that both 1× and 3 × HE treatments diminished necrotic hepatocytes, chemoattraction of inflammatory cells, and liver fibrosis. Both 1× and 3 × HE treatments decreased plasma alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) activities, and reduced hepatic levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-1β compared to CCl 4 treatment alone. The 1 × HE treatment increased hepatic anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 levels. Both the 1× and 3 × HE treatments suppressed liver fibrosis biomarkers transforming growth factor-β1 and hydroxyproline. Therefore, treatment with water extracted Lycium barbarum and Rehmannia glutinosa (0.05% and 0.15% for each) for eight weeks protects against necrotic damage, indicated by decreases in plasma ALT and AST activities, and suppresses liver fibrosis by down-regulation of liver inflammation in rats with CCl4-induced liver injury.
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