Document Type


Original Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine





First Page


Last Page





Originally published at

Date of Submission

June 2017



Radix Bupleuri (RB) has been popularly used for treating many liver diseases such as chronic hepatic inflammation and viral Hepatitis in China. Increasing clinical and experimental evidence indicates the potential hepatotoxicity of RB or prescriptions containing RB. Recently, Saikosaponins (SS) have been identified as major bioactive compounds isolated from RB, which may be also responsible for RB-induced liver injury.


Serum AST, ALT and LDH levels were determined to evaluate SS-induced liver injury in mice. Serum and liver total triglyceride and cholesterol were used to indicate lipid metabolism homeostasis. Liver ROS, GSH, MDA and iNOS were used to examine the oxidative stress level after SS administration. Western blot was used to detect CYP2E1 expression. A 8-Plex iTRAQ Labeling Coupled with 2D LC - MS/MS technique was applied to analyze the protein expression profiles in livers of mice administered with different doses of SS for different time periods. Gene ontology analysis, cluster and enrichment analysis were employed to elucidate potential mechanism involved. HepG2 cells were used to identify our findings in vitro.


SS dose- and time-dependently induced liver injury in mice, indicated by increased serum AST, ALT and LDH levels. According to proteomic analysis, 487 differentially expressed proteins were identified in mice administrated with different dose of SS for different time periods. Altered proteins were enriched in pathways such as lipid metabolism, protein metabolism, macro molecular transportation, cytoskeleton structure and response to stress. SS enhanced CYP2E1 expression in a time and dose dependent manner, and induced oxidative stress both in vivo and in vitro.


Our results identified hepatotoxicity and established dose-time course-liver toxicity relationship in mice model of SS administration and suggested potential mechanisms, including impaired lipid and protein metabolism and oxidative stress. The current study provides experimental evidence for clinical safe use of RB, and also new insights into understanding the mechanism by which SS and RB induced liver injury.


© The Author(s). 2017 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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VCU Microbiology and Immunology Publications