Hepatoprotective effect of licorice, the root of Glycyrrhiza uralensis Fischer, in alcohol-induced fatty liver disease

BMC Complement Altern Med. 2016 Jan 22;16:19. doi: 10.1186/s12906-016-0997-0.


Background: Our previous study suggested that licorice has anti-inflammatory activity in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated microglial cells and anti-oxidative activity in tert-butyl hydroperoxide-induced oxidative liver damage. In this study, we evaluated the effect of licorice on chronic alcohol-induced fatty liver injury mediated by inflammation and oxidative stress.

Methods: Raw licorice was extracted, and quantitative and qualitative analysis of its components was performed by using LC-MS/MS. Mice were fed a liquid alcohol diet with or without licorice for 4 weeks.

Results: We have standardized 70% fermented ethanol extracted licorice and confirmed by LC-MS/MS as glycyrrhizic acid (GA), 15.77 ± 0.34 μg/mg; liquiritin (LQ), 14.55 ± 0.42 μg/mg; and liquiritigenin (LG), 1.34 ± 0.02 μg/mg, respectively. Alcohol consumption increased serum alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase activities and the levels of triglycerides and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α. Lipid accumulation in the liver was also markedly induced, whereas the glutathione level was reduced. All these alcohol-induced changes were effectively inhibited by licorice treatment. In particular, the hepatic glutathione level was restored and alcohol-induced TNF-α production was significantly inhibited by licorice.

Conclusion: Taken together, our data suggests that protective effect of licorice against alcohol-induced liver injury may be attributed to its anti-inflammatory activity and enhancement of antioxidant defense.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Fatty Liver, Alcoholic / blood
  • Fatty Liver, Alcoholic / prevention & control*
  • Glycyrrhiza
  • Glycyrrhiza uralensis* / chemistry
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Plant Roots / chemistry
  • tert-Butylhydroperoxide


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Antioxidants
  • Plant Extracts
  • tert-Butylhydroperoxide