Silymarin has been introduced fairly recently as a hepatoprotective agent. But its mechanisms of action still have not been well established. The aim of this study was to make alcoholic fatty liver model of rats in a short time and investigate silymarin's protective effects and possible mechanisms on alcoholic fatty liver for rats. The model of rat's alcoholic fatty liver was induced by intragastric infusion of ethanol and high-fat diet for six weeks. Histopathological changes were assessed by hematoxylin and eosin staining (HE). The activities of alanine transarninase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST), the levels of total bilirubin (TBIL), total cholesterol (TC) and triglyceride (TG) in serum were detected with routine laboratory methods using an autoanalyzer. The activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and the level of malondialdehyde (MDA) in liver homogenates were measured by spectrophotometry. The TG content in liver tissue was determined by spectrophotometry. The expression of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB), intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) in the liver were analyzed by immunohistochemistry. Silymarin effectively protected liver from alcohol-induced injury as evidenced by improving histological damage situation, reducing ALT and AST activities and TBIL level in serum, increasing SOD and GPx activities and decreasing MDA content in liver homogenates and reducing TG content in liver tissue. Additionally, silymarin markedly downregulated the expression of NF-κB p65, ICAM-1 and IL-6 in liver tissue. In conclusion, Silymarin could protect against the liver injury caused by ethanol administration. The effect may be related to alleviating lipid peroxidation and inhibiting the expression of NF-κB.
Keywords: Alcoholic; Fatty liver; ICAM-1; IL-6; NF-κB; Silymarin.