Methotrexate (Metho) is widely used in the treatment of autoimmune and malignancy diseases. Goji berry (G. berries), Lycium barbarum L., fruit extract has immune-modulating, antioxidant and antitumor effects. This study assessed whether G. berries fruits' extract alleviated the hepatotoxicity induced by Metho in rats. Forty rats were randomly segregated into four groups (G); GI (Cont), GII (Metho); rats on the 21th day injected interperitoneal (ip) with Metho (20 mg/kg), GIII (G. berries 200 mg/kg +Metho) and GIV (G. berries 400 mg/kg + Metho). Rats in GIII and GIV given G. berries 200 and 400 mg/kg orally once a day and on the 21th day rats were injected with Metho i.p as in GII. Blood and hepatic tissues samples were collected after 5 days of Metho injection. Serum liver enzyme activities, interleukin 1 beta (IL-1β) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) were measured. Liver oxidative stress indices (superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), malondialdehyde (MDA) and nitric oxide (NO)) levels were measured in the homogenate liver tissues. Liver sections were examined under microscope to detect the changes in liver tissues. The results showed that there were significant (p< 0.001) increases in serum liver enzyme activities and anti-inflammatory cytokine (IL-1β and TNF-α) levels, as well as hepatic oxidative stress, as marked by significant (p< 0.001) increases in hepatic MDA and NO levels, with significant (p< 0.001) decreases in SOD and CAT activities in Metho group compared with Cont group. Examined hepatic sections showed hydropic degeneration of hepatocytes, congestion of hepatoportal blood vessels, portal infiltration with mononuclear cells. Administration of G. berries extract (200 mg/kg) and (400 mg/kg) revealed significant (p< 0.001) reduction in serum liver enzyme activities and anti-inflammatory cytokines levels, and elevating the hepatic antioxidant status compared with Metho injected rats, as well as overcoming the tissue changes, the majority of the cells tend to be normal especially in the pretreated group with G. berries 400 mg/kg + Metho. In conclusion, the results revealed that G. berries has acute hepatoprotective effect; this could be explained by its ability to restore the antioxidant status and suppress inflammatory responses.
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