Research Papers:

Dietary luteolin attenuates chronic liver injury induced by mercuric chloride via the Nrf2/NF-κB/P53 signaling pathway in rats

Haili Zhang, Xiao Tan, Daqian Yang, Jingjing Lu, Biying Liu, Ruiqi Baiyun and Zhigang Zhang _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:40982-40993. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.17334

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Haili Zhang1, Xiao Tan1, Daqian Yang1, Jingjing Lu1, Biying Liu1, Ruiqi Baiyun1 and Zhigang Zhang1

1College of Veterinary Medicine, Northeast Agricultural University, Harbin, 150030, China

Correspondence to:

Zhigang Zhang, email: [email protected]

Keywords: luteolin, HgCl2, hepatotoxicity, Nrf2, NF-κB

Received: January 06, 2017     Accepted: April 11, 2017     Published: April 21, 2017


Mercury exposure is a common cause of metal poisoning which is biotransformed to highly toxic metabolites thus eliciting biochemical alterations and oxidative stress. Luteolin, a phenolic compound found in many natural products, has multiple biological functions. Our study was aimed to explore the biological effects of luteolin in a liver injury model induced in rats by mercuric chloride (HgCl2). Criteria for injury included liver enzyme, glutathione and malondialdehyde levels, histopathology, TUNEL assay, hepatocyte viability and reactive oxygen species levels. The results showed that luteolin protected against HgCl2-induced liver injury. Luteolin increased total nuclear factor-erythroid-2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) levels in the presence of HgCl2. Upregulation of its downstream factors, heme oxygenase-1 and NAD(P)H quinone oxidoreductase 1, was also observed. This suggested that protection by luteolin against HgCl2-induced liver injury involved Nrf2 pathway activation. Luteolin also decreased expression of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) and P53. HgCl2 exposure led to increased Bcl-associated X protein (Bax), and decreased Bcl-2-related protein long form of Bcl-x (Bcl-xL) and B-cell leukemia/lymphoma-2 (Bcl-2) expression, leading to an increased Bax/Bcl-2 ratio. Taken together, our data suggested that decreasing oxidative stress is a protective mechanism of luteolin against development of HgCl2-induced liver injury, through the Nrf2/NF-κB/P53 signaling pathway in rats.

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