Glycyrrhizin Attenuates Hypoxic-Ischemic Brain Damage by Inhibiting Ferroptosis and Neuroinflammation in Neonatal Rats via the HMGB1/GPX4 Pathway

Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2022 Apr 7;2022:8438528. doi: 10.1155/2022/8438528. eCollection 2022.


With unknown etiology and limited treatment options, neonatal hypoxic-ischemic brain damage (HIBD) remains a major cause of mortality in newborns. Ferroptosis, a recently discovered type of cell death triggered by lipid peroxidation, is closely associated with HIBD. High-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1), a molecule associated with inflammation damage, can induce neuronal death in HIBD. However, it remains unknown whether HMGB1 contributes to neuronal ferroptosis in patients with HIBD. Herein, glycyrrhizin (GL), an HMGB1 inhibitor, was used to investigate the relationship between ferroptosis and HMGB1. RAS-selective lethal 3(RSL3), a ferroptosis agonist, was administered to further confirm the changes in the signaling pathway between HMGB1 and ferroptosis. Western blot analysis revealed that GL markedly suppressed the expression of HMGB1 and increased the level of GPX4 in the context of HIBD. We observed changes in neuronal ultrastructure via transmission electron microscopy to further confirm the occurrence of ferroptosis. Real-time PCR indicated that GL inhibited the expression of ferroptosis-related genes and inflammatory factors. Immunofluorescence and immunohistochemistry staining confirmed GL inhibition of neuronal damage and ferroptosis in HIBD associated with GPX4 and ROS. GL not only inhibited ferroptosis induced by RSL3 and oxygen-glucose deprivation in vitro but also inhibited ferroptosis induced by HIBD in vivo. More importantly, GL may improve oxidative stress imbalance and mitochondrial damage, alleviate the downstream production of inflammatory factors, and ultimately reduce ferroptosis and damage to cortical neurons following HIBD via the HMGB1/GPX4 pathway. In conclusion, we showed for the first time that GL could suppress the occurrence of neuronal ferroptosis and reduce neuronal loss in HIBD via the HMGB1/GPX4 pathway. These findings highlight the potential of HMGB1 signaling antagonists to treat neuronal damage by suppressing ferroptosis, provide new and unique insights into GL as a neuroprotective agent, and suggest new prevention and treatment strategies for HIBD.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Ferroptosis*
  • Glycyrrhizic Acid / pharmacology
  • Glycyrrhizic Acid / therapeutic use
  • HMGB1 Protein* / metabolism
  • Hypoxia-Ischemia, Brain* / drug therapy
  • Hypoxia-Ischemia, Brain* / metabolism
  • Neuroinflammatory Diseases
  • Phospholipid Hydroperoxide Glutathione Peroxidase
  • Rats


  • HMGB1 Protein
  • Hbp1 protein, rat
  • Glycyrrhizic Acid
  • Phospholipid Hydroperoxide Glutathione Peroxidase
  • glutathione peroxidase 4, rat