l-Theanine is a unique amino acid in green tea. We here evaluated the protective effects of l-theanine on ethanol-induced liver injury in vitro and in vivo. Our results revealed that l-theanine significantly protected hepatocytes against ethanol-induced cell cytotoxicity which displayed by decrease of viability and increase of LDH and AST. Furthermore, the experiments of DAPI staining, pro-caspase3 level and PARP cleavage determination indicated that l-theanine inhibited ethanol-induced L02 cell apoptosis. Mechanically, l-theanine inhibited loss of mitochondrial membrane potential and prevented cytochrome c release from mitochondria in ethanol-treated L02 cells. l-Theanine also prevented ethanol-triggered ROS and MDA generation in L02 cells. l-Theanine restored the antioxidant capability of hepatocytes including GSH content and SOD activity which were reduced by ethanol. In vivo experiments showed that l-theanine significantly inhibited ethanol-stimulated the increase of ALT, AST, TG and MDA in mice. Histopathological examination demonstrated that l-theanine pretreated to mice apparently diminished ethanol-induced fat droplets. In accordance with the in vitro study, l-theanine significantly inhibited ethanol-induced reduction of mouse antioxidant capability which included the activities of SOD, CAT and GR, and level of GSH. These results indicated that l-theanine prevented ethanol-induced liver injury through enhancing hepatocyte antioxidant abilities.
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