BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Liver diseases are mostly accompanied by inflammation and hepatocyte death. Therapeutic approaches targeting both hepatocyte injury and inflammation are not available. Natural compounds are considered as potential treatment for inflammatory liver diseases. Hesperetin, a flavonoid component of citrus fruits has been reported to have anti-inflammatory properties. The aim of this study was to evaluate the cytoprotective and anti-inflammatory properties of hesperetin both in vitro and in models of fulminant hepatitis.
EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH: Apoptotic cell death and inflammation were induced in primary cultures of rat hepatocytes by bile acids and cytokine mixture, respectively. Apoptosis was quantified by caspase-3 activity and necrosis by LDH release. The concanavalin A (ConA) and D-galactosamine/LPS (D-GalN/LPS) were used as models of fulminant hepatitis. Liver injury was assessed by ALT and AST levels, liver histology and TUNEL assay and inflammation by inducible Nitric Oxide Synthase (iNOS) expression.
KEY RESULTS: Hesperetin blocked bile acid-induced apoptosis and cytokine-induced inflammation in rat hepatocytes. Moreover, hesperetin improved liver histology and protected against hepatocyte injury in ConA- and D-GalN / LPS-induced fulminant hepatitis, as assessed by TUNEL assay and serum AST and ALT levels. Hesperetin also reduced expression of the inflammatory marker iNOS and the expression and serum levels of TNFα and IFN-γ, the main mediators of cell toxicity in fulminant hepatitis.
CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS: Hesperetin has anti-inflammatory and cytoprotective actions in models of acute liver toxicity. Hesperetin therefore has therapeutic potential for the treatment of inflammatory liver diseases accompanied by extensive hepatocyte injury, such as fulminant hepatitis.