Ginkgo Extracts Can Harm Liver by Disrupting Cell Cycle and Immune Response

Jenn Hoskins
2nd June, 2024

Ginkgo Extracts Can Harm Liver by Disrupting Cell Cycle and Immune Response

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers at Nanjing Forestry University studied how ginkgolic acids (GA) from Ginkgo biloba cause liver injury in mice
  • GA increased liver damage markers, oxidative stress, and triglycerides, indicating liver fibrosis and steatosis
  • GA caused liver cell death and immune response changes, including increased inflammatory cells and disrupted liver cell function
Ginkgo biloba L. is a versatile plant known for its medicinal, nutritional, and ornamental benefits. However, the presence of ginkgolic acids (GA) in Ginkgo biloba has raised concerns due to their potential to cause allergic reactions, embryotoxicity, liver damage, and other adverse effects. The mechanisms underlying GA-induced liver injury have remained unclear until a recent study by researchers at Nanjing Forestry University aimed to elucidate these mechanisms[1]. The study developed an acute liver injury model in mice induced by GA to investigate the mechanisms of liver damage from various perspectives, including oxidative stress, steatosis (the abnormal retention of lipids within a cell), apoptosis (programmed cell death), and immune response. The researchers administered an intraperitoneal injection of GA at a dosage of 400 mg/kg to induce liver damage in the mice. The findings revealed several indicators of liver injury. Serum transaminase levels, which are enzymes released when the liver is damaged, were elevated. There was also an increase in oxidative stress markers and triglycerides, indicating liver fibrosis (scarring of the liver) and steatosis. Additionally, hepatocyte apoptosis and G2/M phase arrest in the hepatic cell cycle were observed, suggesting disruptions in normal liver cell function and division. Monocyte infiltration in the liver, a sign of immune response, was also detected. Flow cytometry analysis of cells separated from the spleen showed an increase in the proportion of Th1 and Th17 cells and a decrease in Th2 cells in GA-treated mice. The rise in the Th1/Th2 ratio and the Th17 cell ratio is typically associated with inflammatory responses. Furthermore, the presence of cleaved Caspase-8 and Caspase-3 in hepatocytes indicated that GA might induce apoptosis through the FADD pathway, a signaling route that leads to cell death. Despite these adverse effects, the study noted that the inflammation and damage in liver tissue were not severe and exhibited individual variability among the mice. This suggests that while GA can cause liver injury, the extent of the damage may depend on individual susceptibility. Previous studies have also explored the effects of ginkgolic acids. For instance, ginkgolic acids have been shown to cause cytotoxic effects in cultured neurons and fibroblasts[2][3]. In one study, ginkgolic acids induced neuron death with features of apoptosis and necrosis, suggesting that these compounds can trigger complex cell death mechanisms[2]. Another study found that ginkgolic acids had cytotoxic effects in fibroblasts but did not show mutagenic properties, contributing to the risk assessment of Ginkgo biloba preparations[3]. The current study builds on these findings by providing a more comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms through which ginkgolic acids cause liver injury. By highlighting the roles of oxidative stress, steatosis, apoptosis, and immune response, the research offers new insights into the potential hepatotoxicity of GA in Ginkgo biloba. These findings could pave the way for better intervention and prevention strategies to mitigate the adverse effects associated with ginkgolic acids. In conclusion, the study by Nanjing Forestry University sheds light on the complex mechanisms of GA-induced liver injury, emphasizing the need for caution in the use of Ginkgo biloba products. While the plant offers numerous benefits, understanding and mitigating its potential risks is crucial for safe and effective use.



Main Study

1) Ginkgolic acids induce liver injury in mice through cell cycle arrest and immune stress under specific condition.

Published 30th May, 2024

Related Studies

2) Ginkgolic acids induce neuronal death and activate protein phosphatase type-2C.

Journal: European journal of pharmacology, Issue: Vol 430, Issue 1, Oct 2001

3) Evaluation of the cytotoxic and mutagenic potential of three ginkgolic acids.

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