Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Vardenafil Against Cholestatic Liver Damage in Mice: a Mechanistic Study.Cell Physiol Biochem. 2018; 47(2):523-534.CP
Phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors have beneficial effects in multiple liver diseases possibly through the reduction of oxidative stress and inflammatory response. However, these effects have not yet been examined in cholestatic liver dysfunction. Hence, this study aimed to explore the ability of vardenafil, a known phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitor, to repress lithocholic acid (LCA)-induced cholestatic liver injury and investigate the possible molecular pathways.
Male Swiss albino mice were treated with LCA (0.125 mg/g) twice daily for 7 days to induce cholestatic liver damage. Vardenafil was administered 3 days before and throughout the administration of LCA. Serum markers of hepatotoxicity and hepatic nitro-oxidative stress along with antioxidant parameters were measured, and the histopathology of liver tissues was assessed. The expression of nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) and its target genes was examined using PCR. The activation of nuclear factor kappa-B (NF-κB) and the levels of inflammatory cytokines were determined. NLRP3 inflammasome and its components were studied by PCR and western blot.
LCA induced marked cholestatic liver damage as demonstrated by increased serum transaminases, alkaline phosphatase (ALP), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), bilirubin, and bile acids. Examination of liver specimens confirmed the biochemical results. Nitro-oxidative stress parameters were significantly elevated along with reduced antioxidant capacity in hepatic tissue following LCA administration. LCA suppressed Nrf2 and its target genes and decreased the mRNA expression and binding capacity of Nrf2 as well as the mRNA expression of GCLm, GCLc, Nqo1, and HO-1. Additionally, LCA enhanced the activation of NF-κB, which was accompanied by elevations of inflammatory cytokines. Importantly, LCA induced the activation of NLRP3 inflammasome. LCA increased the expression of NLRP3, ASC, caspase-1, and IL-1β genes and proteins in hepatic tissue. The activities of IL-1β and caspase-1 were increased in the LCA group. Interestingly, vardenafil ameliorated LCA-induced hepatic injury and alleviated all biochemical, histopathological, and inflammatory parameters.
These data elucidated the effects of Nrf2 inhibition and NLRP3 inflammasome activation in LCA-induced liver injury. The hepatoprotective activity of vardenafil in LCA-induced cholestatic damage may result from the drug's ability to activate Nrf2 signaling and prevent the activation of NLRP3, which could suppress the inflammatory responses in hepatic tissue. Thus, vardenafil can be considered a novel anti-inflammatory remedy for cholestatic liver damage.