Toxicology and applied pharmacology

Actions of juglone on energy metabolism in the rat liver.

PMID 21945490


Juglone is a phenolic compound used in popular medicine as a phytotherapic to treat inflammatory and infectious diseases. However, it also acts as an uncoupler of oxidative phosphorylation in isolated liver mitochondria and, thus, may interfere with the hepatic energy metabolism. The purpose of this work was to evaluate the effect of juglone on several metabolic parameters in the isolated perfused rat liver. Juglone, in the concentration range of 5 to 50μM, stimulated glycogenolysis, glycolysis and oxygen uptake. Gluconeogenesis from both lactate and alanine was inhibited with half-maximal effects at the concentrations of 14.9 and 15.7μM, respectively. The overall alanine transformation was increased by juglone, as indicated by the stimulated release of ammonia, urea, l-glutamate, lactate and pyruvate. A great increase (9-fold) in the tissue content of α-ketoglutarate was found, without a similar change in the l-glutamate content. The tissue contents of ATP were decreased, but those of ADP and AMP were increased. Experiments with isolated mitochondria fully confirmed previous notions about the uncoupling action of juglone. It can be concluded that juglone is active on metabolism at relatively low concentrations. In this particular it resembles more closely the classical uncoupler 2,4-dinitrophenol. Ingestion of high doses of juglone, thus, presents the same risks as the ingestion of 2,4-dinitrophenol which comprise excessive compromising of ATP production, hyperthermia and even death. Low doses, i.e., moderate consumption of natural products containing juglone, however, could be beneficial to health if one considers recent reports about the consequences of chronic mild uncoupling.