Background: Experimental and clinical evidence suggests that liver fibrosis is potentially reversible. Hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) play a key role in the development of hepatic fibrosis. Previous clinical applications and researches showed that Siniruangan recipe (SNRG) reversed liver fibrosis and even liver cirrhosis. This experimental study aimed to elucidate the effects of SNRG on the proliferation, apoptosis and activation of HSCs. Methods: The human HSCs line LX-2 was cultured with normal culture medium and multi-dose SNRG water decoction for 48 h. Cell Counting Kit-8 assay was used to detect the proliferation and cytotoxicity of LX-2 cells. Annexin V-FITC/PI double staining was performed to identify apoptotic cells. Immunofluorescence staining was used to determine the relative content of cleaved caspase-3, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP-1) and transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) in LX-2 cells. Western blot was used to detect the relative content of Bcl-2, Bax, α-smooth muscle actin, β-catenin and TIMP-1 protein expression in LX-2 cells. Results: The SNRG inhibited the proliferation of LX-2 and induced cell apoptosis through caspase-dependent and mitochondrial-dependent pathways. SNRG may inhibit the activation of LX-2 through the β-catenin pathway. The decrease in TIMP-1 and TGF-β1 protein induced by SNRG promoted the degradation of the extracellular matrix (ECM). Conclusions: SNRG induced LX-2 cell apoptosis, inhibited cell proliferation, decreased LX-2 cell activity and promoted the degradation of ECM in vitro, which may be important mechanisms for reversing liver fibrosis and liver cirrhosis.

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