Liver fibrosis is the consequence of diverse liver injuries and can eventually develop into liver cirrhosis. Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE) is an extract from dried ginkgo leaves that has many pharmacological effects because of its various ingredients and has been shown to be hepatoprotective.
Aimed to investigate the underlying protective mechanisms of GBE on carbon tetrachloride (CCl 4)-induced liver fibrosis in rats. Male Sprague Dawley rats were randomly divided into four groups: control group (C), model group (M), low-dose group (L), and high-dose group (H). Liver fibrosis was induced by CCl 4 groups M, L, and H: group C was administered saline. In addition, GBE at different doses was used to treat groups L and H.
The results of hematoxylin and eosin staining, Masson’s trichrome staining, a liver function index, and a liver fibrosis index showed that GBE application noticeably mitigated fibrosis and improved the function of the liver. The western blotting and immunohistochemistry analyses indicated that GBE reduced liver fibrosis not only by inhibiting p38 MAPK and NF-κBp65 via inhibition of IκBα degradation but also by inhibiting hepatocyte apoptosis via downregulation of Bax, upregulation of Bcl-2, and subsequent inhibition of caspase-3 activation. Inflammation-associated factors and hepatic stellate cell (HSC)-activation markers further demonstrated that GBE could effectively inhibit HSC activation and inflammation as a result of its regulation of p38 MAPK and nuclear factor-kappa B/IκBα signaling.
Our findings indicated a novel role for GBE in the treatment of liver fibrosis. The potential mechanisms may be associated with the following signaling pathways: 1) the p38 MAPK and nuclear factor-kappa B/IκBα signaling pathways (inhibiting inflammation and HSCs activation) and 2) the Bcl-2/Bax signaling pathway (inhibiting the apoptosis of hepatocytes).