A polyphenol extract of Hibiscus sabdariffa L. ameliorates acetaminophen-induced hepatic steatosis by attenuating the mitochondrial dysfunction in vivo and in vitro

Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2012;76(4):646-51. doi: 10.1271/bbb.110579. Epub 2012 Apr 7.


Oxidative stress is the major contributor to acetaminophen (AAP)-caused liver damage. It promotes mitochondrial oxidative stress and collapses the mitochondrial membrane potential to cause cell death. We have previously shown that a polyphenol extract of Hibiscus sabdariffa L. (HPE) potentiated the antioxidative effect. We further examined in this study the possible mechanism of HPE against AAP-caused liver damage. BABL/c mice were orally fed with HPE (100, 200 or 300 mg/kg) for two weeks prior to an i.p. injection of 1000 mg/kg of AAP. The mice were decapitated 6 h after the AAP injection to collect the blood and liver for further determination. The results show that pretreating with HPE increased the level of glutathione (GSH), decreased the level of lipid peroxidation, and increased catalase activity in the liver. A histopathological evaluation shows that HPE could decrease AAP-induced liver sterosis accompanied by a decreased expression of AIF, Bax, Bid, and p-JNK in the liver. An in vitro assay revealed that HPE could reduce AAP-induced death of BABL/c normal liver cells (BNLs), reverse the lost mitochondrial potency and improve the antioxidative status, similarly to the results of the in vivo assay. We show in this study that HPE possessed the ability to protect the liver from AAP-caused injury. The protective mechanism might be regulated by decreasing oxidative stress and attenuating the mitochondrial dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / toxicity*
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • Catalase / metabolism
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • Fatty Liver / chemically induced
  • Fatty Liver / prevention & control*
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Hepatocytes / drug effects*
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism
  • Hepatocytes / pathology
  • Hibiscus / chemistry*
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / pathology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mitochondria / drug effects*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Polyphenols / administration & dosage
  • Polyphenols / therapeutic use*


  • Antioxidants
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • Plant Extracts
  • Polyphenols
  • Acetaminophen
  • Catalase
  • Glutathione