The hepatoprotective activity of cultured mycelium of morel mushroom Morchella esculenta against CCl(4) and ethanol induced chronic hepatotoxicity was investigated. Hepatotoxicity was induced by challenging the animals with CCl(4) (1:5, v/v, 3.75 ml/kg body weight, i.p., 30 doses) and ethanol (36%, v/v, 6 ml/animal, p.o., 35 doses) and the extract was administered at two concentrations (250 and 500 mg/kg body weight). Hepatoprotection was evaluated by determining the activities of liver function marker enzymes and antioxidant status of liver and also by histopathological observations of liver tissue. Administration of both ethanol and CCl(4) elevated the levels of liver function enzymes, GOT, GPT and ALP in serum drastically. The treatment with the extract decreased the elevated serum GOT, GPT and ALP activities in a dose dependent manner. The extract also restored the depleted levels of antioxidants in liver consequent to CCl(4) and ethanol challenge. The results indicated that aqueous-ethanolic extract of M. esculenta mycelium possessed significant hepatoprotective activity. The conclusion is also supported by the biochemical determinations and histopathological observations. The findings thus suggest the potential therapeutic use of morel mushroom mycelium as a novel hepatoprotective agent.
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