Exogenous Ghrelin Could Not Ameliorate 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine-induced Acute Liver Injury in The Rat: Involved Mechanisms

Document Type : Research article


1 Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.

2 Neurophysiology Research Center, Shahed University, Tehran, Iran.

3 Department of Medicinal Chemistry, Faculty of Pharmacy, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

4 Department of Immunology, School of Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences Tehran, Iran

5 Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences, Ahvaz, Iran.


MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, ecstasy) is often abused by youth as a recreational drug. MDMA abuse is a growing problem in different parts of the world. An important adverse consequence of the drug consumption is hepatotoxicity of different intensities. However, the underlying mechanism of this toxicity has not been completely understood. Ghrelin is a gut hormone with growth hormone stimulatory effect. It expresses in liver, albeit at a much lower level than in stomach, and exerts a hepatoprotective effect. In this study, we investigated hepatotoxicity effect of MDMA alone and its combination with ghrelin as a hepatoprotective agent. MDMA and MDMA+ ghrelin could transiently increase serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) followed by tissue necrosis. However, they could significantly decrease liver tumor necrosis factor-a (TNF-α) in both treatment groups. Unexpectedly, in MDMA treated rats, Bax, Bcl-xl, Bcl-2, Fas, Fas ligand (Fas-L), caspase 8, cytochrome c, caspase 3 gene expression, and DNA fragmentation were nearly unchanged. In addition, apoptosis in MDMA+ ghrelin group was significantly reduced when compared with MDMA treated animals. In all,MDMA could transiently increase serum transaminases and induce tissue necrosis and liver toxicity. Ghrelin, however, could not stop liver enzyme rise and MDMA hepatotoxicity. MDMA hepatotoxicity seems to be mediated via tissue necrosis than apoptotic and inflammatory pathways. Conceivably, ghrelin as an anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptotic agent may not protect hepatocytes against MDMA liver toxicity.

Graphical Abstract

Exogenous Ghrelin Could Not Ameliorate 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine-induced Acute Liver Injury in The Rat: Involved Mechanisms


Main Subjects

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