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Carcinogenesis. 1999 Jan;20(1):59-63.

Inhibition of hepatocellular carcinoma by glycyrrhizin in diethylnitrosamine-treated mice.

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Second Department of Internal Medicine, Tottori University School of Medicine, Yonago, Japan.


Glycyrrhizin (GL) is widely used in Japan as a therapeutic agent for chronic active liver diseases. However, its action on hepatocarcinogenesis remains to be elucidated. To clarify its effect, mice treated with diethylnitrosamine (NDEA) with or without GL were analyzed. Five-week-old male BALB/c mice were divided into two groups, GL (n=50) and C (n=47). Mice in the GL group intramuscularly received 2 mg of GL 3 days a week, and mice in the C group received the same volume of saline in the same way. After 2 weeks, the mice were treated with an i.p. injection of 75 mg/kg body wt of NDEA weekly for 3 weeks and 100 mg/kg body wt of NDEA weekly for the following 3 weeks. Thirty additional mice that did not receive NDEA treatment were divided into two groups, GC (n=15) and SC (n=15). They received GL or saline, respectively. Mice in the 4 groups were killed every 5 weeks after the last injection of NDEA from 7 weeks to 32 weeks. Liver function tests such as AST and albumin were significantly improved in the GL group compared with the C group (P < 0.05, each). Although liver nodules appeared in the C group at 22 weeks, they were not observed until 32 weeks in the GL group. At 32 weeks, the mean number of liver tumors, composed of adenoma and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), in the GL group was 0.71, which was significantly decreased compared with 1.64 of the C group (P < 0.05). The mean number of HCC in the GL group was 0.29/liver, which was lower than 0.82/liver in the C group (P < 0.05). The incidence rate of HCC at 32 weeks was 64% in the C group and 21% in the GL group (P < 0.05, C versus GL group). Our results suggest that GL treatment inhibits the occurrence of HCC.

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