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Open Access Research article

Urine metabolic profile changes of CCl4-liver fibrosis in rats and intervention effects of Yi Guan Jian Decoction using metabonomic approach

Xiaojun Gou1, Qing Tao1, Qin Feng1, Jinghua Peng1, Yu Zhao1, Jianye Dai2, Wenyu Wang2, Yongyu Zhang2, Yiyang Hu13* and Ping Liu13*

Author Affiliations

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

2 Center for Traditional Chinese Medicine and Systems Biology of Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 201203, China

3 E-institute of Shanghai Municipal Education Commission, Shanghai 201203, China

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013, 13:123  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-123

Published: 3 June 2013



Yi Guan Jian Decoction (YGJD), a famous Chinese prescription, has long been employed clinically to treat liver fibrosis. However, as of date, there is no report on the effects of YGJD from a metabonomic approach. In this study, a urine metabonomic method based on gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (GC/MS) was employed to study the protective efficacy and metabolic profile changes caused by YGJD in carbon tetrachloride (CCl4)-induced liver fibrosis.


Urine samples from Wistar rats of three randomly divided groups (control, model, and YGJD treated) were collected at various time-points, and the metabolic profile changes were analyzed by GC/MS with principal component analysis (PCA) and partial least squares-discriminate analysis (PLS-DA). Furthermore, histopathology and biochemical examination were also carried out to ensure the success of CCl4-induced liver fibrosis model.


Urine metabolic profile studies suggested distinct clustering of the three groups, and YGJD group was much closer to the control group by showing a tendency of recovering towards the control group. Fourteen significantly changed metabolites were found, and YGJD treatment could reverse the levels of these metabolites to normal levels or close to normal levels.


The current study indicates that the YGJD has significant anti-fibrotic effects on CCl4-induced liver fibrosis in rats, which might be by regulating the dysfunction of energy metabolism, amino acid metabolism, tryptophan metabolism, cytochrome P450 metabolism, and gut microflora metabolism. The metabonomic approach can be recommended to study the pharmacological effect and mechanism of complex Chinese medicines.

Yi Guan Jian Decoction; Carbon tetrachloride; Liver fibrosis; Urine metabolic profiles; GC/MS