Herb Extract Helps Protect Liver from Damage Through Key Cellular Pathways

Jim Crocker
16th May, 2024

Herb Extract Helps Protect Liver from Damage Through Key Cellular Pathways

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study by Henan University of Chinese Medicine explored how Gynostemma pentaphyllum (GPE) protects the liver from damage using a carbon tetrachloride (CCl4)-induced liver disease model
  • GPE significantly reduced liver cell death and injury by decreasing markers of apoptosis and increasing anti-apoptotic proteins
  • Gypenoside A (GPA) in GPE was particularly effective in preventing liver cell death by activating the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway, crucial for cell survival
Gynostemma pentaphyllum (Thunb.) Makino, commonly known as "southern ginseng," is renowned for its therapeutic effects on liver diseases. A recent study conducted by Henan University of Chinese Medicine[1] delved into the mechanisms underlying its hepatoprotective action using an experimental carbon tetrachloride (CCl4)-induced liver disease model. This study sheds light on how G. pentaphyllum (GPE) can protect liver cells from damage and apoptosis, which are critical aspects of liver disease progression. The liver is highly vulnerable to injury due to its central role in metabolizing various substances, including drugs and alcohol, and its involvement in lipid and fatty acid metabolism[2]. Hepatocyte apoptosis and necrosis are common forms of liver cell death that contribute to liver diseases. The study aimed to explore how GPE could mitigate these harmful processes. In the experiment, GPE was found to significantly alleviate hepatocyte necrosis and liver injury caused by CCl4. Pathological examinations revealed that GPE downregulated the expression of Bax and cleaved-PARP, both markers of apoptosis, while upregulating Bcl-2, an anti-apoptotic protein. This finding is consistent with previous research showing that hepatocytes rely heavily on Bcl-2 family proteins for protection against cell death[2]. The researchers compared the effects of four compounds in GPE: a ginsenoside (Rb3) shared by both GPE and Panax ginseng, and three unique gypenosides. Among these, Gypenoside A (GPA) stood out for its remarkable ability to reduce hepatocyte apoptosis, outperforming ginsenoside Rb3. This suggests that GPA plays a crucial role in the hepatoprotective effects of GPE. To understand the underlying mechanisms, the study employed network pharmacology and transcriptomic analyses. These approaches revealed that GPA's anti-apoptotic effect is mediated by upregulating the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway via PDK1. This pathway is essential for cell survival and proliferation, and its activation helps prevent apoptosis. This aligns with other studies that have shown the importance of the PI3K/Akt pathway in protecting cells from stress-induced apoptosis[3]. Interestingly, the study's findings also resonate with research on the effects of quercetin (Que), a flavonoid with antioxidant properties. Que has been shown to mitigate mitochondrial apoptosis in hepatocytes by activating the PI3K/Akt pathway[3]. This parallel underscores the potential of targeting this pathway for hepatoprotection. The study by Henan University of Chinese Medicine expands on previous research by providing a detailed mechanism through which G. pentaphyllum exerts its hepatoprotective effects. By upregulating the PDK1/Bcl-2 signaling pathway, GPA in GPE helps prevent hepatocyte apoptosis, offering a promising therapeutic strategy for liver diseases. In conclusion, this study highlights the significant hepatoprotective potential of G. pentaphyllum, particularly through the action of Gypenoside A. By elucidating the mechanisms involved, it paves the way for developing new treatments for liver diseases, building on the understanding of hepatocyte vulnerability and the importance of anti-apoptotic pathways[2][3][4].



Main Study

1) Gynostemma Pentaphyllum ameliorates CCl4-induced liver injury via PDK1/Bcl-2 pathway with comprehensive analysis of network pharmacology and transcriptomics.

Published 15th May, 2024


Related Studies

2) Hepatocyte death: a clear and present danger.


3) Quercetin antagonizes imidacloprid-induced mitochondrial apoptosis through PTEN/PI3K/AKT in grass carp hepatocytes.


4) Evolving therapies for liver fibrosis.


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