S-allylmercaptocysteine improves nonalcoholic steatohepatitis by enhancing AHR/NRF2-mediated drug metabolising enzymes and reducing NF-κB/IκBα and NLRP3/6-mediated inflammation

Eur J Nutr. 2021 Mar;60(2):961-973. doi: 10.1007/s00394-020-02305-1. Epub 2020 Jun 17.


Purpose: To investigate the novel molecular mechanisms of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of S-allylmercaptocysteine (SAMC) based on a transcriptomic study in a nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) rat model METHODS: NASH was induced in Sprague-Dawley rats by feeding with a high fat diet (HFD) for 12 weeks. 200 mg/kg SAMC was fed by oral gavage for 4 weeks from 9 to 12 week.

Results: SAMC co-administration attenuated HFD-induced liver injury, including the increased serum ALT, hepatic oxidative stress and inflammation. Transcriptomic analysis revealed that SAMC dramatically induced the XRE- and ARE-driven drug metabolising enzymes (DMEs) including Akr7a3, Akr1b8, and Nqo1. The nuclear translocation of the upstream regulator of xenobiotics metabolism, AHR, and regulator of antioxidant responses, NRF2, were significantly increased by SAMC treatment. Furthermore, SAMC counteracted the effects of HFD on NF-κB/IκB and NLRP3/6 pathways with decreasing protein levels of ASC, cleaved caspase-1, IL-18, and IL-1β. These results were further verified in another mice NASH model induced by an MCD diet with SAMC co-administration.

Conclusion: We propose that SAMC triggers AHR/NRF2-mediated antioxidant responses which may further suppress the NLRP3/6 inflammasome pathway and NF-κB activation, contributing to the improvement of NASH.

Keywords: Antioxidant responses; Inflammasome; NASH; S-allylmercaptocysteine; Xenobiotic responses.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cysteine / analogs & derivatives
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Liver
  • Mice
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2 / genetics
  • NF-KappaB Inhibitor alpha
  • NF-kappa B / genetics
  • NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein / genetics
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease* / drug therapy
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2
  • NF-kappa B
  • NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein
  • Nlrp3 protein, mouse
  • Nlrp3 protein, rat
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • S-allylmercaptocysteine
  • NF-KappaB Inhibitor alpha
  • Cysteine