2016 Volume 41 Issue 1 Pages 55-63
Carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) is commonly used as a chemical inducer of experimental liver injury. Several compounds have been demonstrated to attenuate the hepatic damage caused by sublethal doses of CCl4. However, rescue from lethal toxicity of CCl4 has not been reported. In the present study, we evaluated the protective effect of metallothionein (MT), an endogenous scavenger of free radicals, on CCl4-induced lethal toxicity of mice. To induce MT production in male ddY mice, we administered Zn (as ZnSO4) at 50 mg/kg as a once-daily subcutaneous injection for 3 days prior to a single intraperitoneal administration of 4 g/kg CCl4. Animals were observed for mortality every 3 hr for 24 hr after CCl4 injection. Liver damage was assessed by determining (in a subset of these mice) blood levels of alanine aminotransferase (ALT; a marker of liver injury) and liver histopathology at 6 hr after CCl4 injection. Our results showed that three times pretreatment with Zn yielded > 40-fold induction of hepatic MT protein levels compared to control group. Zn pretreatment completely abolished the CCl4-induced mortality of mice. We also found that pretreatment of mice with Zn significantly decreased the ALT levels and reduced the histological liver damage as assessed at 6 hr post-CCl4. These findings suggest that prophylaxis with Zn protects mice from CCl4-induced acute hepatic toxicity and mortality, presumably by induction of radical-scavenging MT.