Protective effects of curcumin and silymarin against paracetamol induced hepatotoxicity in adult male albino rats

Gene. 2019 Sep 5;712:143966. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2019.143966. Epub 2019 Jul 4.


Background: Acute paracetamol (PCM) toxicity is a clinical problem; can result in a serious liver injury that finally may progress to acute liver failure. Curcumin (CUR) is a prevalent natural compound that can maintain prooxidant/antioxidant balance and thus can help in liver protection; also, Silymarin (SL) is a traditional antioxidant herb, used to treat liver disorders through scavenging free radicals. This study aimed to illustrate the histological, biochemical and molecular changes induced by acute PCM overdose on rats' liver to elucidate the effectiveness of CUR compared to SL in alleviating such changes.

Materials and methods: Male Wister Albino rats were divided into 6 groups each comprising 23 rats: control group, curcumin (CUR) treated group received (100 mg CUR/ kg), silymarin treated group received (100 mg SL/kg) for 7 successive days. Paracetamol (PCM) exposed group administered a single dose of PCM (200 mg/kg orally on 8th day). PCM + CUR group and PCM + SL group pretreated with CUR and SL respectively for 7 days then received single PCM dose (200 mg/kg) on the 8th day. Blood and liver tissues were collected for biochemical, histopathological and immunohistochemical analyses using anti-p53 antibody. In addition, real time polymerase chain reaction (RT- PCR) was used to measure Bax, bcl2 and Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPAR γ) mRNA expression levels.

Results: In the paracetamol overdose group, the liver architecture showed necrotic changes, hydropic degeneration, congestion and dilatation of central veins. This hepatocellular damage was confirmed by a significant increase of AST, ALT levels and by an apparent increase in the number of p53 stained cells. PCM toxicity showed significant elevation of total oxidant status (TOS), oxidant status index (OSI) and decreased total antioxidant capacity (TAC) compared to controls (p < 0.001). Gene expression analysis showed that PCM caused an elevation of bcl2 and a reduction of both Bax and PPARγ mRNA expression. The histological alternation in the liver architecture was markedly improved in (PCM + CUR) group compared to (PCM+ SL) group, with an obvious decrease in the number of P53 stained cells. CUR pretreatment inhibited the elevation of TOS and OSI as well as the reduction of TAC caused by PCM toxicity compared to (PCM + SL) group.

Conclusion: Both SL and CUR pretreatment prevented the toxic effects of PCM, but CUR is more effective than SL in ameliorating acute PCM induced hepatotoxicity.

Keywords: Apoptotic genes; Curcumin; PPARγ; Paracetamol; Silymarin; Total antioxidant capacity.

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / toxicity*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Apoptosis
  • Curcumin / pharmacology*
  • Drug Synergism
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver Failure, Acute / chemically induced*
  • Male
  • Oxidants / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • PPAR gamma / metabolism
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Silymarin / pharmacology*
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein / metabolism


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Bax protein, rat
  • Bcl2 protein, rat
  • Oxidants
  • PPAR gamma
  • Plant Extracts
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Silymarin
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein
  • Acetaminophen
  • Curcumin