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Physiol Int. 2019 Dec 1;106(4):323-334. doi: 10.1556/2060.106.2019.26. Epub 2019 Oct 17.

Betulin attenuated liver damage by prevention of hepatic mitochondrial dysfunction in rats with alcoholic steatohepatitis.

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Division of Biochemical Pharmacology, Institute of Biochemistry of Biologically Active Compounds, National Academy of Sciences, Grodno, Belarus.
Department of Biotechnology, University of Medical Sciences, Bialystok, Poland.
Department of Biochemistry, Yanka Kupala State University of Grodno, Grodno, Belarus.


Betulin, a pentacyclic triterpene, possesses antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and hepatoprotective properties. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of liver mitochondria in hepatoprotection of betulin using a rat model of alcoholic steatohepatitis induced by ethanol administration (4 g/kg, intragastric) for 8 weeks. The treatment with betulin (50 and 100 mg/kg b.w., intragastric) during this period attenuated the histological signs of steatohepatitis and lowered the serum and liver triglyceride contents, as well as the serum activities of aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, and alkaline phosphatase. Betulin (100 mg/kg) decreased the liver/body weight ratio and inhibited the increase in the serum levels of TNFα, IL-1β, TGFβ, and hyaluronic acid, demonstrating hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory, and antifibrotic potential. Betulin also inhibited the formation of superoxide anions in mitochondria and the end-products of lipid peroxidation in liver tissue, the amount of which was significantly increased in ethanol-treated rats. The disturbances in mitochondrial respiration, uncoupling of oxidative phosphorylation and decreasing of mitochondrial complex I, II, and IV activities in rats with steatohepatitis, were reverted by betulin administration. The increased susceptibility of mitochondria to Ca2+-induced permeability transition pore formation in the hepatitis group was improved in rats treated with betulin. In conclusion, betulin, having antioxidant properties, exerts a beneficial effect in the rat model of alcoholic steatohepatitis via prevention of liver mitochondria dysfunction, which may be attributed to the inhibition of mitochondrial permeability transition.


alcoholic steatohepatitis; betulin; liver; mitochondria; mitochondrial permeability transition


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