Activated hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) are the main extracellular matrix (ECM)-producing cells in the injured liver and the key mediators of liver fibrosis; they also promote the progression of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In the acidic extracellular microenvironment of HCC, HSCs are activated to promote the migration of HCC cells. It is worth attempting to alter the weak acidic microenvironment to promote activated HSC apoptosis to treat liver fibrosis and liver cancer. In the present study, a series of novel OA-amino acids analogues were designed and synthesized to introduce different amino acids in the 3-hydroxyl of OA using the ester condensation reaction to enhance hydrophilicity, alkalinity, and biological activity. We found that OA-lysine derivative (3g
) could improve the hydrophilic of OA and induce HSCs apoptosis via inducing MMP depolarization and increasing intracellular Ca2+
levels. Additionally, 3g
displayed a better hepatoprotective effect than OA (20 mg/kg, intragastric administration) against the acute liver injury induced by carbon tetrachloride (CCl4
) in mice. The results suggested that basic amino acids (lysine) could effectively enhance OA’s hydrophilicity, alkalinity, and hepatoprotective activity in vitro and in vivo, which might be likely associated with increasing bioavailability and altering an extracellular weak acidic microenvironment with further verification. Therefore, the OA-lysine derivative (3g
) has the potential to be developed as an agent with hepatoprotective activity.
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