Glutamyl cysteine dipeptide suppresses ferritin expression and alleviates liver injury in iron-overl
Despite its biological importance, iron is a pro-oxidant element and its accumulation results in tissue injury. Iron overload diseases such as thalassemia and hereditary hemochromatosis are commonly associated with liver tissue injury. Glutamyl cysteine (GC) is a dipeptide with antioxidant properties owing to its cysteine residue. The aim of the current work was to investigate the hepatoprotective effect of GC against iron overload-induced liver injury. Rats were distributed into five groups; normal control, GC control, iron-treated (150 mg/kg ip injection) and both iron and GC-treated (total iron: 150 mg/kg ip and GC: 50 mg or 100 mg/kg/day ip for 30 days). Our results showed that treatment with GC at the two-dose levels attenuated iron-induced liver tissue injury as evidenced by significant reduction in serum activity of liver enzymes ALT and AST, amelioration of iron-induced histopathological alteration, suppression of iron-induced oxidative stress as demonstrated by significant reduction of malondialdehyde and protein carbonyl content beside elevation of total antioxidant capacity, reduced glutathione and the antioxidant enzymes GPx and SOD in liver tissue. In addition, GC significantly reduced levels of the proinflammatory cytokines TNF-α, IL-6 and IL-1β and activity of the apoptotic marker caspase-3 in liver tissues. To our surprise, GC reduced liver iron content and ferritin expression, denoting the possible iron chelation competency. Collectively our results highlight evidence for the hepatoprotective effect of GC against iron overload-induced liver injury that is potentially mediated through suppression of oxidative tissue injury, attenuation of inflammatory response, amelioration of hepatocellular apoptosis and possibly through iron chelation.