Oral administration of oleanolic acid, isolated from Swertia mussotii Franch, attenuates liver injury, inflammation, and cholestasis in bile duct-ligated rats

Jin Chai, Xiaohuang Du, Sheng Chen, Xinchan Feng, Ying Cheng, Liangjun Zhang, Yu Gao, Shaoxue Li, Xiaochong He, Rongquan Wang, Xiangdong Zhou, Yong Yang, Weizao Luo, Wensheng Chen

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25 Citations (Scopus)


Background & aims: Oleanolic acid is abundantly distributed in Swertia mussotii Franch, a Chinese traditional herb for the treatment of jaundice. However, the hepatoprotective role of oleanolic acid in obstructive cholestasis and its underlying molecular mechanism are unclear. Methods: Normal rats and bile duct-ligated (BDL) rats were given oleanolic acid and serum biochemistry, bile salts, and pro-inflammatory factors were measured, as well as the expression levels of liver bile acid synthesis and detoxification enzymes, membrane transporters, nuclear receptors, and transcriptional factors. Results: Oral administration of oleanolic acid at 100 mg/kg did not cause rat liver injury. However, it significantly reduced the serum levels of alanine aminotransferase (ALT) on days 7 and 14, aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and TNF-α on day 14, and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and IL-1β on days 3, 7, and 14 in the BDL rats. Furthermore, the serum levels of total bile acid (TBA) and bile acids, including CDCA, CA, DCA, and Tα/βMCA were significantly reduced by oleanolic acid on day 3 in the BDL rats. In addition, the expression levels of detoxification enzymes Cyp3a, Ugt2b, Sult2a1, Gsta1-2, and Gstm1-3, membrane transporters Mrp3, Mrp4, Ostβ, Mdr1, Mdr2, and Bsep, nuclear receptors Pxr, Vdr, Hnf4α, Rxrα, Rarα, Lxr, and Lrh-1, and transcriptional factors Nrf2, Hnf3β, and Ahr were significantly increased in oleanolic acid-treated rats. Conclusion: We demonstrated that the oral administration of oleanolic acid attenuates liver injury, inflammation, and cholestasis in BDL rats. The anti-cholestatic effect may be associated with the induction of hepatic detoxification enzymes and efflux transporters mediated by nuclear receptors and transcriptional factors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1691-1702
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Detoxification enzyme
  • Hepatic efflux transporter
  • Nuclear receptor
  • Obstructive cholestasis
  • Oleanolic acid
  • Synthetic enzyme
  • Transcriptional factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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