Background: Kudzu (Pueraria thunbergiana) root has long been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. However, the vine of the kudzu plant has been considered waste material. This study aimed to investigate the hepatoprotective properties of the kudzu vine.
Methods: We created 0 %, 30 %, 70 %, and 95 % ethanolic kudzu vine extracts. The isoflavone contents of kudzu vine extract were quantified by high-performance liquid chromatography. Tertiary-butylhydroperoxide (t-BHP) was added to human liver-derived HepG2 cells, and the production of reactive oxygen species was measured in the presence and absence of kudzu vine extract. Antioxidant activity was evaluated in all kudzu vine extracts using a hydroxyradical scavenging assay. Thirty-five male Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into seven groups (n = 5); two groups were not given any extract or drug, one group was treated with 50 mg/kg silymarin orally for 5 days, and the remaining four groups were respectively treated with 100 mg/kg of 0%, 30%, 70%, or 95% ethanolic extract of kudzu vine orally once daily for 5 days. On day 5 the treatment groups and one untreated group were fed 0.75 ml/kg carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) to induce liver damage. Blood and liver tissue samples were collected 24 h after CCl4 administration for measurement of plasma alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase, and concentration of malondialdehyde and glutathione in liver tissue.
Results: Puerarin was the most abundant isoflavone in kudzu vine extract. Kudzu vine extract significantly reduced the cytotoxicity and production of reactive oxygen species induced by t-BHP in a dose-dependent manner. Treatment with 0 % and 30 % ethanolic extracts of kudzu vine significantly lowered the plasma levels of alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase in a CCl4-induced hepatotoxicity rat model (P < 0.05). Glutathione was significantly elevated in the 30 % ethanolic extract-treated group (P < 0.05), while the malondialdehyde level in liver tissue was significantly decreased in the 0 % and 30 % ethanolic extract-treated groups (P < 0.05).
Conclusions: The kudzu vine is potentially highly beneficial in treating liver damage, as it scavenges reactive free radicals and boosts the endogenous antioxidant system.