Flavokawain B, the hepatotoxic constituent from kava root, induces GSH-sensitive oxidative stress through modulation of IKK/NF-κB and MAPK signaling pathways

Ping Zhou, Shimon Gross, Ji Hua Liu, Bo Yang Yu, Ling Ling Feng, Jan Nolta, Vijay Sharma, David Piwnica-Worms, Samuel X. Qiu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

74 Scopus citations

Abstract

Kava (Piper methysticum Foster, Piperaceae) organic solvent-extract has been used to treat mild to moderate anxiety, insomnia, and muscle fatigue in Western countries, leading to its emergence as one of the 10 bestselling herbal preparations. However, several reports of severe hepatotoxicity in kava consumers led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and authorities in Europe to restrict sales of kava-containing products. Herein we demonstrate that flavokawain B (FKB), a chalcone from kava root, is a potent hepatocellular toxin, inducing cell death in HepG2 (LD50=15.3±0.2 μM) and L-02 (LD50=32 μM) cells. Hepatocellular toxicity of FKB is mediated by induction of oxidative stress, depletion of reduced glutathione (GSH), inhibition of IKK activity leading to NF-κB transcriptional blockade, and constitutive TNF-α-independent activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathways, namely, ERK, p38, and JNK. We further demonstrate by noninvasive bioluminescence imaging that oral consumption of FKB leads to inhibition of hepatic NF-κB transcriptional activity in vivo and severe liver damage. Surprisingly, replenishment with exogenous GSH normalizes both TNF-α-dependent NF-κB as well as MAPK signaling and rescues hepatocytes from FKB-induced death. Our data identify FKB as a potent GSH-sensitive hepatotoxin, levels of which should be specifically monitored and controlled in kava-containing herb products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4722-4732
Number of pages11
JournalFASEB Journal
Volume24
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2010

Keywords

  • Apoptosis
  • Bioluminescence imaging
  • Hepatocellular toxin
  • Herb products
  • TNF-α

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biotechnology
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology

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