Hawk tea (Litsea coreana Levl. var. lanuginose) is a traditional Chinese drink similar to green tea. In the present study, the preventive effects of Hawk tea on hepatic damage induced by carbon tetrachloride (CCl(4)) were studied in Sprague-Dawley rats. Silymarin was used as a positive control. Hawk tea was successfully shown to prevent hepatic damage in the rats. Serum levels of AST, ALT and LDH were significantly decreased when the rats were treated with varying concentrations of Hawk tea compared with silymarin (P<0.05). The lowest enzyme activities were exhibited in the 400 mg/kg Hawk tea group. This group showed reduced levels of the serum proinflammatory cytokines IL-6, IFN-γ and TNF-α. In particular, the IFN-γ level decreased markedly compared with the other concentration groups. The histopathology sections of liver tissue in the 400 mg/kg Hawk tea group recovered well from the CCl(4) damage, but the sections of the other concentration groups showed necrosis to a more serious degree. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and western blot analyses of the inflammation-related genes iNOS, COX-2, TNF-α and IL-1β in the rat livers were tested. The 400 mg/kg Hawk tea group showed significantly decreased mRNA and protein expression levels of iNOS, COX-2, TNF-α and IL-1β compared with the control group. Accordingly, 400 mg/kg Hawk tea potentially contributes to the prevention of CCl(4)-induced hepatic damage in vivo. A 200 or 100 mg/kg dose of Hawk tea also demonstrated preventive effects against hepatic damage.
Keywords: CCl; Hawk tea; cytokines; hepatic damage; inflammation.