• β-carotene;
  • CCl4;
  • hepatitis;
  • liver fibrosis;
  • rat

Earlier data from experiments in rats have shown that administration of retinyl esters (vitamin A) strongly influences the effects of CCl4 on the liver. The accumulation of collagen was inhibited, but an increase in CCl4-toxicity with high mortality was observed. The present study was conducted to examine the effects of β-carotene (provitamin A) on CCl4-related general and hepatic toxicity in rats. Oral administration of β-carotene during CCl4-treatment resulted, biochemically, in a significantly lower increase in the hydroxyproline liver content and, histopathologically, in less severe liver fibrosis as compared with the liver of rats not treated with β-carotene. The study also showed that β-carotene administration could prevent the long-term loss of retinoids from the CCl4-injured liver. No significant toxic effects of β-carotene, as previously found with retinyl esters (vitamin A), were observed. This experimental study suggests that β-carotene has the therapeutic potential to decrease the severity of liver fibrosis without marked toxicity.