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Korean Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology 2019; 23(1): 21-28

Published online January 1, 2019

Copyright © Korean J Physiol Pharmacol.

Swertiamarin ameliorates carbon tetrachloride-induced hepatic apoptosis via blocking the PI3K/Akt pathway in rats

Qianrui Zhang1, Kang Chen2, Tao Wu3,*, Hongping Song3,*

1Department of Pharmacy, General Hospital of the Yangtze River Shipping, Wuhan 430022, 2Department of Pharmacy, Huanggang Central Hospital, Huanggang 438000, 3Department of Pharmacy, Wuhan NO.4 Hospital, Wuhan Puai Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan 430030, China

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Swertiamarin (STM) is an iridoid compound that is present in the Gentianaceae swertia genus. Here we investigated antiapoptotic effects of STM on carbon tetrachloride (CCl4)-induced liver injury and its possible mechanisms. Adult male Sprague Dawley rats were randomly divided into a control group, an STM 200 mg/kg group, a CCl4 group, a CCl4+STM 100 mg/kg group, and a CCl4+STM 200 mg/kg group. Rats in experimental groups were subcutaneously injected with 40% CCl4 twice weekly for 8 weeks. STM (100 and 200 mg/kg per day) was orally given to experimental rats by gavage for 8 consecutive weeks. Hepatocyte apoptosis was determined by TUNEL assay and the expression levels of Bcl-2, Bax, and cleaved caspase-3 proteins were evaluated by western blot analysis. The expression of TGF-β1, collagen I, collagen III, CTGF and fibronectin mRNA were estimated by qRT-PCR. The results showed that STM significantly reduced the number of TUNEL-positive cells compared with the CCl4 group. The levels of Bax and cleaved caspase-3 proteins, and TGF-β1, collagen I, collagen III, CTGF, and fibronectin mRNA were significantly reduced by STM compared with the CCl4 group. In addition, STM markedly abrogated the repression of Bcl-2 by CCl4. STM also attenuated the activation of the PI3K/Akt pathway in the liver. These results suggested that STM ameliorated CCl4-induced hepatocyte apoptosis in rats.

Keywords: Akt, Carbon tetrachloride, Collagen, Hepatocyte apoptosis, Swertiamarin