Protective effects of a polymethoxy flavonoids-rich Citrus aurantium peel extract on liver fibrosis induced by bile duct ligation in mice

Asian Pac J Trop Med. 2016 Dec;9(12):1158-1164. doi: 10.1016/j.apjtm.2016.10.009. Epub 2016 Nov 9.


Objective: To evaluate the possible protective effect of Citrus aurantium peel extract (CAE) against apoptosis in cholestatic liver fibrosis induced by bile duct ligation in mice.

Methods: Male ICR mice were divided to 5 groups: 1) Control group (Sham-operated mice), 2) Cholestatic liver injury group induced by bile duct ligation (BDL), 3) BDL mice treated with silymarin (200 mg/kg) for 4 weeks, 4) BDL mice treated with 50 mg/kg CAE for 4 weeks, 5) BDL mice treated with 200 mg/kg CAE for 4 weeks. Mice were sacrificed and liver fibrosis was evaluated by serum and hepatic tissue biochemistry tests and liver histopathological examination. Effects of CAE on inflammation and apoptosis gene regulation were investigated through real-time PCR. CAE effect on lipid metabolism related signaling was determined by western blot analysis.

Results: In BDL mice, administration of CAE for 4 weeks markedly attenuated liver fibrosis based on histopathological alteration. Serum and hepatic tissue biochemistry results revealed that CAE (50 and 200 mg/kg) decreased the levels of alanine transaminase, aspartate transaminase, gamma-glutamyl transferase, total bilirubin, nitric oxide, and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances. Real-time PCR and western blot analysis showed that CAE regulated inflammation, apoptosis, and lipid metabolism factors increased by BDL. Interleukin family, tumor necrosis factor α, and related apoptosis factors mRNA levels were increased by BDL treatment. However, these increases were suppressed by CAE administration. In addition, CAE effectively increased phosphorylation of AMP-activated protein kinase, nuclear factor E2-related factor 2, and related cytoprotective proteins.

Conclusions: CAE can efficiently regulate BDL-induced liver injury with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-apoptotic activities.

Keywords: Bile duct ligation; Cholestasis; Citrus aurantium peel extract; Hepatic fibrosis; Liver injury.