Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine and BioMed Central.

Open Access Open Badges Research article

Huangqi decoction inhibits apoptosis and fibrosis, but promotes Kupffer cell activation in dimethylnitrosamine-induced rat liver fibrosis

Cheng Liu12, Gaoqiang Wang13, Gaofeng Chen1, Yongping Mu1, Lijun Zhang1, Xudong Hu1, Mingyu Sun1, Chenghai Liu1 and Ping Liu14*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Liver Diseases, Shuguang Hospital, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai, 201203, China

2 Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai Public Clinical Health Center, Shanghai, 201508, China

3 Department of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine, Eastern Hepatobiliary Surgery Hospital, Shanghai, 200438, China

4 Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 1200 Cailun Road, Shanghai, 201203, China

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012, 12:51  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-51

Published: 24 April 2012



Previously, Huangqi decoction (HQD) has been found to have a potential therapeutic effect on DMN-induced liver cirrhosis. Here, the mechanisms of HQD action against liver fibrosis were investigated in relation to hepatocyte apoptosis and hepatic inflammation regulation.


Liver fibrosis was induced by DMN administration for 2 or 4 weeks. Hepatocyte apoptosis and of Kupffer cells (KC) and hepatic stellate cells (HSC) interaction were investigated using confocal microscopy. The principle cytokines, fibrogenic proteins and apoptotic factors were investigated using western blot analysis.


Compared with the DMN-water group, HQD showed decreased hepatocyte apoptosis and reduced expression of apoptotic effectors, cleaved-caspase-3, and fibrotic factors, such as smooth muscle α-actin (α-SMA), transforming growth factor beta-1 (TGF-β1). However, the KC marker CD68 increased significantly in DMN-HQD liver. Confocal microscopy demonstrated widespread adhesion of KCs to HSCs in DMN-water and DMN-HQD rats liver.


HQD exhibited positive protective effects against liver fibrosis; its mechanism of action was associated with protection from hepatocyte apoptosis and the promotion of CD68 expression in the devolopment of liver fibrosis to cirrhosis development.