Protective and therapeutic effects of nanoliposomal quercetin on acute liver injury in rats

BMC Pharmacol Toxicol. 2020 Feb 14;21(1):11. doi: 10.1186/s40360-020-0388-5.


Background: Quercetin, a pigment (flavonoid) found in many plants and foods, has good effects on protecting liver function but poor solubility and bioavailability in vivo. A drug delivery system can improve the accumulation and bioavailability of quercetin in liver. In this study, we used liposomal nanoparticles to entrap quercetin and evaluated its protective and therapeutic effects on drug-induced liver injury in rats.

Methods: The nanoliposomal quercetin was prepared by a thin film evaporation-high pressure homogenization method and characterized by morphology, particle size and drug content. Acute liver injury was induced in rats by composite factors, including carbon tetrachloride injection, high-fat corn powder intake and ethanol drinking. After pure quercetin or nanoliposomal quercetin treatment, liver function was evaluated by detecting serum levels of glutamic-pyruvic transaminase (GPT), glutamic-oxal acetic transaminase (GOT) and direct bilirubin (DBIL). Histology of injured liver tissues was evaluated by hematoxylin and eosin staining.

Results: On histology, liposomal nanoparticles loading quercetin were evenly distributed spherical particles. The nanoliposomal quercetin showed high bioactivity and bioavailability in rat liver and markedly attenuated the liver index and pathologic changes in injured liver tissue. With nanoliposomal quercetin treatment, the serum levels of GPT, GOT and DBIL were significantly better than treated with pure quercetin. Using liposomal nanoparticles to entrap quercetin might be an effective strategy to reduce hepatic injury and protect hepatocytes against damage.

Conclusion: Liposomal nanoparticles may improve the solubility and bioavailability of quercetin in liver. Furthermore, nanoliposomal quercetin could effectively protect rats against acute liver injury and may be a new hepatoprotective and therapeutic agent for patients with liver diseases.

Keywords: Bioavailability; Liposome; Liver injury; Nanoparticles; Quercetin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / drug therapy*
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / pathology
  • Female
  • Liposomes
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / pathology
  • Male
  • Nanoparticles / administration & dosage*
  • Quercetin / administration & dosage*
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Liposomes
  • Quercetin