Protective Effect of Astragalus polysaccharides on Liver Injury Induced by Several Different Chemotherapeutics in Mice

  • Liu, Wen (Department of Pathology and Pathophysiology, Research Center of Food and Drug Evaluation, School of Medicine, Wuhan University) ;
  • Gao, Fang-Fang (Department of Pathology and Pathophysiology, Research Center of Food and Drug Evaluation, School of Medicine, Wuhan University) ;
  • Li, Qun (Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University, the First College of Clinical Medicine of Wuhan University) ;
  • Lv, Jia-Wei (Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, the Second College of Clinical Medicine of Wuhan University) ;
  • Wang, Ying (Department of Pathology and Pathophysiology, Research Center of Food and Drug Evaluation, School of Medicine, Wuhan University) ;
  • Hu, Peng-Chao (Department of Pathology and Pathophysiology, Research Center of Food and Drug Evaluation, School of Medicine, Wuhan University) ;
  • Xiang, Qing-Ming (Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, the Second College of Clinical Medicine of Wuhan University) ;
  • Wei, Lei (Department of Pathology and Pathophysiology, Research Center of Food and Drug Evaluation, School of Medicine, Wuhan University)
  • Published : 2015.01.06


Side effects are an unavoidable consequence of chemotherapy drugs, during which liver injury often takes place. The current study was designed to investigate the protective effect of Astragalus polysaccharides (APS) against the hepatotoxicity induced by frequently-used chemical therapy agents, cyclophosphamide (CTX), docetaxel (DTX) and epirubicin (EPI)) in mice. Mice were divided into five groups, controls, low or high dose groups ($DTX_L$, $CTX_L$, $EPI_L$ or $DTX_H$, $CTX_H$, $EPI_H$), and low or high dose chemotherapeutics+APS groups ($DTX_L$+APS, $CTX_L$+APS, $EPI_L$+APS or $DTX_H$+APS, $CTX_H$+APS, $EPI_H$+APS). Controls were treated with equivalent normal saline for 28 days every other day; low or high dose group were intraperitoneal (i.p) injected with low or high doses of CTX, DTX and EPI for 28 days every other day; low or high dose chemotherapeutics+APS group were separately intraperitoneal (i.p) injected with chemotherapeutics for 28 days every other day and i.p with APS (100 mg/kg) for 7 days continually from the 22th to the 28th days. The body weight, serum levels of alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST), histopathological features, and ultrastructure morphological change of liver tissues, protein expression level of caspase-3 were estimated at different time points. With high dose treatment of DTX, CTX and EPI, weight gain was inhibited and serum levels of ALT and AST were significantly increased. Sections of liver tissue showed massive hepatotoxicity in $CTX_H$ group compared to the control group, including hepatic lobule disorder, granular and vacuolar degeneration and necrosis in hepatic cells. These changes were confirmed at ultrastructural level, including obvious pyknosis, heterochromatin aggregation, nuclear membrane resolution, and chondrosome crystal decrease. Western blotting revealed that the protein levels of caspase-3 increased in $CTX_H$ group. The low dose groups exhibited trivial hepatotoxicity. More interestingly, after 100 mg/kg APS, liver injury was redecued not only regarding serum transaminase activities (low or high dose chemotherapeutics+APS group), but also from pathological and ultrastructural changes and the protein levels of caspase-3 ($CTX_H$+APS group). In conclusion, DTX, CTX and EPI induce liver damage in a dose dependent manner, whereas APS exerted protective effects.


Hepatotoxicity;cyclophosphamide;docetaxel;epirubicin;Astragalus polysaccharides;ALT;AST


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