Schisandra fruits for the management of drug-induced liver injury in China: A review

Peili Zhu, Junkui Li, Xiuqiong Fu, Zhiling Yu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


Background: With increasing use of pharmaceuticals, drug-induced liver injury (DILI) has become a significant therapeutic challenge to physicians all over the world. Drugs based on Schisandra fruits (SF for short, the fruits of Schisandra chinensis or Schisandra sphenanthera) or synthetic analogues of schisandrin C, are commonly prescribed for treating DILI in China.

Purpose: This review summarizes the literature regarding the application of SF-derived drugs in patients with DILI and current understanding of mechanisms underlying the protective effects of SF against liver injury.

Methods: Keywords related to drug-induced liver injury and Schisandra fruits were searched in the following databases: Pubmed, Cochrane Library, Google Scholar, LiverTox, China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), Chinese Scientific Journal database (VIP), and Wanfang database. All studies, published in English or Chinese, were included. Clinical study exclusion criteria: if patients received other Chinese herbal medicines in a study, the study will not be included in this review.

Results: Clinical studies have shown that SF-derived drugs are effective in inhibiting drug-induced elevation of serum levels of alanine aminotransferase, aspartate transaminase and total bilirubin. Cellular and animal studies have demonstrated that crude SF extracts, lignan compounds found in SF, and SF-derived drugs are effective in protecting the liver against xenobiotic-induced injury. Regulation of cytochrome P450 enzyme activity, anti-oxidation, anti-inflammation and acceleration of liver regeneration are involved in the hepatoprotective mechanisms of SF.

Conclusion: SF-derived drugs are effective in ameliorating DILI in China. To verify the clinical efficacy of these drugs, high-quality clinical studies are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number152760
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Complementary and alternative medicine

User-Defined Keywords

  • Clinical efficacy
  • Drug-induced liver injury
  • Liver protection
  • Mechanism of action
  • Schisandra fruits


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