Saffron offers hepatoprotection via up-regulation of hepatic farnesoid-X-activated receptors in a rat model of acetaminophen-induced hepatotoxicity

Document Type : Original Research Article


1 Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Sciences Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, Alborz University of Medical Sciences, Karaj,Iran

3 Department of Physiology-Pharmacology-Medical Physic, School of Medicine, Alborz University of Medical Sciences, Karaj, Iran Evidence-based Phytotherapy and Complementary Medicine Research Center, Alborz University of Medical Sciences, Karaj, Iran

4 Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences, Faculty of Para-Medicine; Alborz University of Medical Sciences

5 Department of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Pharmacy, Alborz University of Medical Sciences, Karaj,Iran Evidence-based Phytotherapy and Complementary Medicine Research Center, Alborz University of Medical Sciences, Karaj, Iran

6 Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences, Faculty of Para-Medicine, Alborz University of Medical Sciences, Karaj, Iran

7 Department of Physiology-Pharmacology-Medical Physic, School of Medicine, Alborz University of Medical Sciences, Karaj, Iran

8 Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Sciences Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran


Objectives: The most important toxicity of acetaminophen is hepatotoxicity. Farnesoid X-activated receptors (FXR) are one of the nuclear receptor superfamily members which have a pivotal role in the bile acid regulation. The objective of the present study was to examine the role of FXR in mediating the hepatoprotective effects of saffron.
Methods: Male Wister rats were randomly allocated into five groups including a control, vehicle, acetaminophen and two saffron extract groups of 150 and 300 mg/kg/day. The liver function and hepatic FXR expression were evaluated using biochemical assay and real time RT-PCR, respectively. Data analysis was performed using the one-way ANOVA followed by Duncan's multiple range test.
Results: Levels of aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) of the acetaminophen group were significantly higher than the control group whereas those of the extract-treated groups were significantly lower than those of the acetaminophen group. The real time RT-PCR findings showed a non-significant down-regulation of FXR mRNA expression, however, a dose-dependent FXR up-regulation was seen in the groups treated with 150 and 300 mg/kg of the extract for 2.67 (p=0.002) and 10.22 (p=0.0001) fold, respectively.
Conclusion: The main finding of the present study was that the hepatic FXR up-regulation had an important role in saffron hepatoprotective activity.


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