The cause of liver damage by using black cohosh preparation has been concerned but remains unclear. After a preliminary investigation, the black cohosh medicinal materials sold in the market were adulterated with Asian cohosh (Cimicifuga) without removing the fibrous roots. The safety of Cimicifuga rhizome and fibrous roots is unknown and has not been reported. Therefore, in this paper, the rhizome and fibrous roots of Cimicifuga dahurica
(Turcz.) Maxim (C. dahurica
) were completely separated, extracted with 70% ethanol, and freeze-dried to obtain crude rhizome extract (RC) and fibrous roots extract (FRC). UHPLC-Q-TOF-MS was used to identify 39 compounds in the rhizome and fibrous roots of Cimicifuga, mainly saponins and phenolic acids. In the L-02 cytotoxicity experiment, the IC50
of fibrous roots (1.26 mg/mL) was slightly lower than that of rhizomes (1.417 mg/mL). In the 90-day sub-chronic toxicity study, the FRC group significantly increased the level of white blood cells, ALP, ALT, AST, BILI and CHOL (p
< 0.05); large area of granular degeneration and balloon degeneration occurred in liver tissue; and the expression of p-NF-kB in the nucleus increased in a dose-dependent manner. Overall, Fibrous roots of Cimicifuga are at risk of hepatotoxicity and should be strictly controlled and removed during the processing.
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