Preclinical Models for Investigation of Herbal Medicines in Liver Diseases: Update and Perspective

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016;2016:4750163. doi: 10.1155/2016/4750163. Epub 2016 Jan 28.


Liver disease results from a dynamic pathological process associated with cellular and genetic alterations, which may progress stepwise to liver dysfunction. Commonly, liver disease begins with hepatocyte injury, followed by persistent episodes of cellular regeneration, inflammation, and hepatocyte death that may ultimately lead to nonreversible liver failure. For centuries, herbal remedies have been used for a variety of liver diseases and recent studies have identified the active compounds that may interact with liver disease-associated targets. Further study on the herbal remedies may lead to the formulation of next generation medicines with hepatoprotective, antifibrotic, and anticancer properties. Still, the pharmacological actions of vast majority of herbal remedies remain unknown; thus, extensive preclinical studies are important. In this review, we summarize progress made over the last five years of the most commonly used preclinical models of liver diseases that are used to screen for curative herbal medicines for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, liver fibrosis/cirrhosis, and liver. We also summarize the proposed mechanisms associated with the observed liver-protective, antifibrotic, and anticancer actions of several promising herbal medicines and discuss the challenges faced in this research field.

Publication types

  • Review