IMR Press / FBL / Volume 26 / Issue 12 / DOI: 10.52586/5050
Open Access Original Research
Hepatoprotective effect of genistein against dimethylnitrosamine-induced liver fibrosis in rats by regulating macrophage functional properties and inhibiting the JAK2/STAT3/SOCS3 signaling pathway
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1 Experiment Center of Teaching & Learning, Institute of Chinese Materia Medica, Institute of Interdisciplinary Integrative Medicine Research, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 201203 Shanghai, China
2 Institute of Liver Diseases, Key Laboratory of Liver and Kidney Diseases (Ministry of Education), Shanghai Key Laboratory of Traditional Chinese Clinical Medicine, Shuguang Hospital Affiliated to Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 201203 Shanghai, China
*Correspondence: (Ping Liu); (Wei Liu)
These authors contributed equally.
Academic Editor: Zhaoguo Liu
Front. Biosci. (Landmark Ed) 2021, 26(12), 1572–1584;
Submitted: 16 October 2021 | Revised: 1 December 2021 | Accepted: 10 December 2021 | Published: 30 December 2021
Copyright: © 2021 The Author(s). Published by BRI.
This is an open access article under the CC BY 4.0 license (

Background: Liver fibrosis is a dysregulated wound-healing process in response to diverse liver injuries, and an effective drug therapy is not yet available. Genistein, which is one of the most active natural flavonoids mainly derived from soybean products (e.g., Cordyceps sinensis mycelium), exhibits various biological effects, including hepatoprotective and anti-inflammatory properties. However, the anti-hepatic fibrosis mechanisms of genistein are poorly understood. The aim of our research is to explore the effect and the possible mechanism of genistein against liver fibrosis. Materials and methods: Cell counting kit-8, EdU, and flow cytometry assays were applied to evaluate the effects of genistein on cell viability, proliferation, and cell cycle arrest in human hepatic stellate cell (HSC) line LX2 cells. HSC activation was induced by transforming growth factor-β1 in LX2 cells and liver fibrosis model was established by the intraperitoneal injection of dimethylnitrosamine (DMN) in rats to assess the anti-fibrosis effects of genistein in vivo and in vitro models. HSC activation was assessed by qRT-PCR, Western blot, immunohistochemistry, and immunofluorescent assay. Liver injury and collagen deposition were evaluated by histopathological assay, serum biochemistry, and hepatic hydroxyproline content assays. The mRNA expressions of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs), and inflammation related-factors were assessed by qRT-PCR assay. Furthermore, the functional properties of macrophage in the liver were assessed by immunohistochemistry assay. The expression levels of the JAK2/STAT3/SOCS3 signaling pathway related-protein were assessed by Western blot analysis. Results: Genistein significantly inhibited cell viability and proliferation and induced cell cycle arrest at G0/G1 phase in LX2 cells, respectively. Furthermore, oral administration of genistein significantly ameliorated liver injury and the collagen deposition in rats with DMN-induced fibrosis model. Genistein suppressed the expression levels of HSC activation marker α-smooth muscle actin and collagen type I alpha 1 in vivo and in vitro. Genistein significantly decreased the mRNA expression levels of extracellular matrix degradation genes MMP2/9 and TIMP1 in rats. Genistein alleviated the mRNA expression levels of IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α, and MCP-1 and regulated the protein expressions of CD68, CD163, and CD206 in the liver. Moreover, genistein attenuated the expressions of p-JAK2/JAK2, p-STAT3/STAT3, and SOCS3 protein both in vivo and in vitro. Conclusion: Taken together, our results showed that genistein could be improved liver fibrosis both in vivo and in vitro, probably through regulating the functional properties of macrophage and inhibiting the JAK2/STAT3/SOCS3 signaling pathway.

Liver fibrosis
Hepatic stellate cells (HSC)
Macrophage functional properties
JAK2/STAT3/SOCS3 signaling pathway
Fig. 1.
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