Chilli peppers hold promise of preventing liver damage and progression
Results revealed today at the International Liver Congress 2015 show that the daily consumption of capsaicin, the active compound of chilli peppers, was found to have beneficial effects on liver damage.
In the study, capsaicin was found to reduce the activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) in mice models. HSCs are the major cell type involved in liver fibrosis, which is the formation of scar tissue in response to liver damage.
The mice were split into two groups and received capsaicin in their food:
- After three days of bile duct ligation (BDL) in which the common bile duct is obstructed, leading to bile accumulation and liver fibrosis
- Before and during chronic carbon tetrachloride treatment (CCl4). CCl4 is an inorganic compound that was widely used in fire extinguishers, as a precursor to refrigerants and as a cleaning agent. It is now known to be one of the most potent hepatotoxins
The study demonstrates that capsaicin partially improved liver damage in the BDL mice and inhibited further progression of the injury. In the second group of CCl4-treated mice, capsaicin prevented livers from injury development but did not reduce the fibrosis when it was already established.
These results support the need for further investigation into capsaicin for the treatment and prevention of liver injury and fibrosis.