We assessed the prevention of hepatic fibrogenesis by water-extract of Panax notoginseng Buck F.H. Chen. (Arialiaceae) root (PNS) in Long-Evans rats with cinnamon coat color (LEC rats). LEC rats were divided into three groups A, fed on a basal diet (BD); B, fed on BD plus 1% PNS; and C), fed on BD plus 0.005% lycopene as a control. All rats were sacrificed at 26 weeks of age. The percentage of the total area involved by fibrosis was 1.46 +/- 0.47 in group A, 0.83 +/- 0.10 in B (P=0.0030, B vs A) and 0.91 +/- 0.45 in C (P=0.0035, C vs. A). The percentage of the total area that was stained for alpha-SMA was 0.56 +/- 0.34 in group A, 0.15 +/- 0.02 in B (P=0.0016, B vs. A and 0.11 +/- 0.01 in C (P=0.0025, C vs. A. In group B, malondialdehyde (MDA) in the liver was lower than in group C (P=0.007). In group C, the concentration of iron in the liver was lower than in group A (P=0.0053). Thus, PNS suppressed fibrogenesis through reduced generation of lipid peroxides. The mechanisms of this preventive effect of fibrogenesis with PNS were suggested to inhibit the stellate cell activity. Second objective of this study was to determine whether PNS affects hepatic microvascular dysfunction elicited by gut ischemia and reperfusion (I/R), since gut I/R causes hepatic microvascular dysfunction, and to investigate the role of nitric oxide (NO). Male Wistar rats were exposed to 30 min of gut ischemia followed by 60 min of reperfusion. Intravital microscopy was used to monitor the number of non-perfused sinusoids (NPS). In another set of experiments, PNS (1 g/kg per day intragastrically) was administered to rats for 7 days. In some experiments, dexamethasone (ST) (2 mg/kg per day intravenously) was administered. In control rats, gut I/R elicited increases in the number of NPS, and plasma TNF-alpha and ALT activities, and these changes were mitigated by the pretreatment with PNS. Pretreatment with an NO synthase inhibitor diminished the protective effects of PNS on the increase in NPS and plasma TNF-alpha levels, but not its effect on the increase in plasma ALT activities. Pretreatment with PNS increased plasma nitrite/nitrate levels. The responses caused by gut I/R were attenuated by the pretreatment with ST. Pretreatment with an NO synthase inhibitor did not affect the effect of ST. These results suggest that PNS attenuates the gut I/R-induced hepatic microvascular dysfunction and inflammatory responses such as TNF-alpha production in the early phase via enhancement of NO production, and sequential hepatocellular damage via its anti-inflammatory effect.