Nutmeg is a Traditional Chinese Medicine used to treat gastrointestinal diseases. Some reports have indicated that nutmeg has hepatoprotective activity. In this study, a thioacetamide (TAA)-induced acute liver injury model in mice was used to explore the mechanism of the protective effects of nutmeg extract (NME), including its major bioactive component myrislignan. The results indicated that NME could effectively protect TAA-induced liver damage as assessed by recovery of increased serumtransaminases, decrease in hepatic oxidative stress, and lower hepatic inflammation. Metabolomics analysis further revealed that treatment with NME led to the recovery of a series of lipids including lysophosphatidylcholines that were decreased and a lowering of acylcarnitines that were increased in mouse plasma and liver after TAA exposure. Gene expression analysis demonstrated that the hepatoprotective effect of NME was achieved by modulation of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARα) as well as the decrease in oxidative stress. NME could not protect from TAA-induced liver injury in Ppara-null mice, suggesting that its protective effect was dependent on PPARα. Myrislignan, a representative neolignan in nutmeg, showed potent protective activity against TAA-induced liver toxicity. These data demonstrate that nutmeg alleviates TAA-induced liver injury through the modulation of PPARα and that the lignan compounds in nutmeg such as myrislignan partly contributed to this action.
Keywords: PPARα; hepatoprotective activity; metabolomics; myrislignan; nutmeg.