Treatment of liver fibrosis associated with Schistosoma japonicum ova-induced granulomas remains a challenging proposition. There is a close relationship between high levels of interleukin-13 (IL-13) and the development of severe schistosome fibrosis. In contrast, IL-13 receptor (R) α2 has an effective role in attenuation of profibrosis. Several Chinese herbs have significant beneficial effects in liver disease. Accordingly, the purpose of the present study was to investigate the therapeutic effect of Paeoniflorin (PAE) on liver fibrosis. A mouse model for liver fibrosis was established, using infection with S. japonicum cercariae via the skin. Liver tissue was used to examine the effect of PAE on hydroxyproline, collagen I and III, and IL-13 and IL-13Rα2. The results showed that PAE has significant suppressive effect on the increase of both hepatic hydroxyproline and collagen I and III, which are the main components of extracellular matrix (ECM). Meanwhile, PAE not only inhibits IL-13 production, it also elevates IL-13Rα2 in PAE-pretreated groups compared with controls. These results suggested that PAE can improve liver fibrosis due to S. japonicum infection. The effect of PAE appears to depend on a decrease of IL-13 and an increase of IL-13Rα2.
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