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Study looks at the effects of poor man’s ginseng on liver fibrosis


In this study, researchers from Shuguang Hospital in China investigated the mechanisms underlying the ability of gypenosides (GPs) – the predominant component of Gynostemma pentaphyllum or poor man’s ginseng – to ameliorate liver fibrosis. The results of their study were published in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine.

  • GP is known to exert antifibrotic effects.
  • The researchers induced liver fibrosis in C57BL/6 mice via subcutaneous injection of 10 percent carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) three times a week for two weeks.
  • They administered CCl4 in conjunction with intragastric GPs for another three weeks.
  • For in vitro analyses, they treated WB-F344 hepatic progenitor cells (HPCs) with transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-B1) with or without GPs for 48 hours. They used immunostaining to visualize specific proteins.
  • They found that alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate transaminase (AST) activity, deposition of collagen, hydroxyproline content, and expression of alpha-smooth muscle actin (alpha-SMA) and collagen type I (Col I) significantly decreased after treatment with GPs.
  • Treatment with 5M CCl4 significantly increased the expression of HPC markers, Sox9 and cytokeratin 19 (CK19).
  • Immunostaining showed that the number of Sox9 and alpha-SMA double-positive cells was higher in the 5M CCl4 group than in the normal group, but the addition of GPs decreased this cell number.
  • Treatment with TGF-B1 significantly increased the expression of alpha-SMA and Col I in WB-F344 cells while GPs treatment decreased their expression.
  • GP treatment also reduced the levels of TGF-B1 and TGF-BR1 in vivo and in vitro.

These results demonstrated that GPs can ameliorate CCl4-induced liver fibrosis by inhibiting TGF-B signaling, consequently inhibiting the differentiation of HPCs into myofibroblasts.

Journal Reference:

Chen J, Li X, Hu Y, Liu W, Zhou Q, Zhang H, Mu Y, Liu P. GYPENOSIDES AMELIORATE CARBON TETRACHLORIDE-INDUCED LIVER FIBROSIS BY INHIBITING THE DIFFERENTIATION OF HEPATIC PROGENITOR CELLS INTO MYOFIBROBLASTS. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine. 2017;45(05):1061–1074. DOI: 10.1142/s0192415x17500574



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