The liver is highly susceptible to iron overload-evoked oxidative injury. Ergothioneine is a thio-histidine amino acid that has exhibited strong antioxidant and metal chelating activities. This study aimed at exploring the potential modulating effects of ergothioneine on iron-triggered liver injury. The results showed that ergothioneine inhibited iron-evoked inflammation and apoptosis as demonstrated by a significant reduction in tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-6 levels and in caspase-3 activity. Ergothioneine significantly improved liver cell survival as indicated by modulating phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/protein kinase B signaling. Consistent with reduced necrotic cell death, ergothioneine diminished the iron-evoked histopathological changes and decreased serum activity of the liver enzymes. Mechanistically, ergothioneine reduced nuclear translocation of nuclear factor kappa B p65 and modulated p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase/c-Fos signaling. In addition, it enhanced the liver tissue antioxidant potential and curbed hepatic iron load. Together, these results point out the modulatory effects of ergothioneine on iron-evoked liver cell injury that are possibly mediated via anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and possible iron chelation capabilities.
Keywords: NF-κB; TNF-α; ergothioneine; hepatocellular injury; iron overload.
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