In the work, defatted muscle proteins of monkfish (Lophius litulon
) were separately hydrolyzed by pepsin, trypsin, and in vitro gastrointestinal (GI) digestion methods, and antioxidant peptides were isolated from proteins hydrolysate of monkfish muscle using ultrafiltration and chromatography processes. The antioxidant activities of isolated peptides were evaluated using radical scavenging and lipid peroxidation assays and H2
-induced model of HepG2 cells. In which, the cell viability, reactive oxygen species (ROS) content, and antioxidant enzymes and malondialdehyde (MDA) levels were measured for evaluating the protective extent on HepG2 cells damaged by H2
. The results indicated that the hydrolysate (MPTH) prepared using in vitro GI digestion method showed the highest degree of hydrolysis (27.24 ± 1.57%) and scavenging activity on a 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radical (44.54 ± 3.12%) and hydroxyl radical (41.32 ± 2.73%) at the concentration of 5 mg protein/mL among the three hydrolysates. Subsequently, thirteen antioxidant peptides (MMP-1 to MMP-13) were isolated from MPTH. According to their DPPH radical and hydroxyl radical scavenging activity, three peptides with the highest antioxidant activity were selected and identified as EDIVCW (MMP-4), MEPVW (MMP-7), and YWDAW (MMP-12) with molecular weights of 763.82, 660.75, and 739.75 Da, respectively. EDIVCW, MEPVW, and YWDAW showed high scavenging activities on DPPH radical (EC50
0.39, 0.62, and 0.51 mg/mL, respectively), hydroxyl radical (EC50
0.61, 0.38, and 0.32 mg/mL, respectively), and superoxide anion radical (EC50
0.76, 0.94, 0.48 mg/mL, respectively). EDIVCW and YWDAW showed equivalent inhibiting ability on lipid peroxidation with glutathione in the linoleic acid model system. Moreover, EDIVCW, MEPVW, and YWDAW had no cytotoxicity to HepG2 cells at the concentration of 100.0 µM and could concentration-dependently protect HepG2 cells from H2
-induced oxidative damage through decreasing the levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and MDA and activating intracellular antioxidant enzymes of superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px). These present results indicated that the protein hydrolysate and isolated antioxidant peptides from monkfish muscle, especially YWDAW could serve as powerful antioxidants applied in the treatment of some liver diseases and healthcare products associated with oxidative stress.