Japanese herbal medicine Inchin-ko-to as a therapeutic drug for liver fibrosis.

Inao MMochida SMatsui AEguchi YYulutuz YWang YNaiki KKakinuma TFujimori KNagoshi SFujiwara K.

Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Internal Medicine, Saitama Medical School, 38 Morohongo, Moroyama-cho, Iruma-gun, Saitama 350-0495, Japan.

BACKGROUND/AIMS: Inchin-ko-to (TJ-135) is an herbal medicine used in Japan for treatment of icteric patients with cirrhosis. Its efficacy as an anti-fibrogenic drug was evaluated in relation to stellate cell activation. METHODS/RESULTS: Liver fibrosis was induced in rats by repeated injections of carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) or pig-serum. Oral administration of TJ-135 improved the mortality of rats given CCl4 with reduced extents of liver necrosis and fibrosis. Similar improvement of liver fibrosis was found in rats given pig-serum showing no liver necrosis. DNA synthesis of stellate cells activated in vitro after isolation from normal rat liver was decreased by culture with TJ-135 in a dose-related manner, accompanied by decreased smooth muscle alpha actin expression and contractility. Such attenuation was not found in the cells cultured with geniposide, an iridoid compound of TJ-135, but genipin, an aglycone of geniposide formed in the gut by action of bacterial flora, markedly decreased stellate cell activation without affecting synthesis of proteins other than collagen. CONCLUSIONS: TJ-135 may be useful for treatment of liver fibrosis and portal hypertension through suppression of activated hepatic stellate cell function by genipin, an absorbed form of its component