Three doses of (+)-usnic acid (100, 200, and 240 mg/kg per d) were administered orally to Wistar rats for 8 days, and metabonomic characterization of (+)-usnic acid-induced liver injury based on gas chromatography-mass spectrometry metabolic profiles was evaluated. Serum biochemical analysis and histopathological examinations were simultaneously performed. The liver/body weight ratio was significantly increased in (+)-usnic acid-treated groups, whereas serum alanine aminotransferase and total bilirubin were significantly elevated. In liver sections of 200 and 240 mg/kg dosage groups, widespread hydropic degeneration of hepatocytes was observed. Clusters in partial least squares discriminant analysis score plots showed control and (+)-usnic acid-treated groups had an obvious separation. (+)-Usnic acid exposure can lead to disturbances in energy metabolism, amino acid metabolism, lipid metabolism, and nucleotide metabolism, which may be attributable to (+)-usnic acid toxicological effects on the liver through oxidative stress. The significant changes in 22 metabolites in liver might be adopted as potential biomarkers.
- gas chromatography-mass spectrometry
- liver injury
- partial least squares discriminant analysis
- usnic acid