The present study was undertaken to investigate the possible protective effect of L-carnosine (CAR), an endogenous dipeptide of alanine and histidine, on carbon tetrachloride (CCl4)-induced hepatic injury. Liver injury was induced in male Sprague-Dawley rats by intraperitoneal (i.p.) injections of CCl4, twice weekly for six weeks. CAR was administered to rats daily, at dose of 250 mg/kg, i.p. At the end of six weeks, blood and liver tissue specimens were collected. Results show that CAR treatment attenuated the hepatic morphological changes, necroinflammation and fibrosis induced by CCl4, as indicated by hepatic histopathology scoring. In addition, CAR treatment significantly reduced the CCl4-induced elevation of liver-injury parameters in serum. CAR treatment also combatted oxidative stress; possibly by restoring hepatic nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf-2) levels. Moreover, CAR treatment prevented the activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs), as indicated by reduced α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) expression in the liver, and decreased hepatic inflammation as demonstrated by a reduction in hepatic tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and restoration of interleukin-10 (IL-10) levels. In conclusion, CCl4-induced hepatic injury was alleviated by CAR treatment. The results suggest that these beneficial, protective effects are due, at least in part, to its anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic activities.
Keywords: CCl4-induced hepatic injury; Nrf2; carnosine; α-SMA.