Effects of fenofibrate and xuezhikang on high-fat diet-induced non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Xue Zhi Hong, Lian Da Li, Li Mao Wu
Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology & Physiology 2007, 34 (1): 27-35
1. Fenofibrate and xuezhikang are two types of drugs widely used in the treatment of dyslipidaemia in China. The main purpose of present study was to test the efficacies and explore the potential mechanisms of action of the two lipid-lowering agents on high-fat diet-induced non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). 2. Rats were randomly divided into four groups, with eight rats per group. One group was given normal diet, whereas the other three groups were fed a high-fat diet. Forty-two days later, two of the high-fat diet-fed groups were administered fenofibrate (100 mg/kg, p.o.) and xuezhikang (300 mg/kg, p.o.) for another 42 consecutive days. The other two groups were administered placebo (saline) by gavage. 3. Typical pathological symptoms of NAFLD occurred in the high-fat diet groups. Fenofibrate and xuezhikang treatment markedly improved NAFLD, ameliorating dyslipidaemia and fat accumulation in the liver, improving insulin resistance and ameliorating oxidative stress. Hepatic steatosis, necro-inflammation and collagen deposition were lessened in the drug-treated groups. However, both xuezhikang and fenofibrate failed to reverse hepatomegaly and fenofibrate even aggravated it. Xuezhikang reversed aminotransferase abnormalities, but fenofibrate had less of an effect. 4. The common therapeutic mechanism of action of fenofibate and xuezhikang likely involves inhibition of the hepatic expression of tumour necrosis factor-alpha. Fenofibrate upregulated mRNA levels of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) alpha in the liver, whereas xuezhikang had no effect on the hepatic expression of PPARalpha and this may explain, in part, their different effects on the NAFLD rats. 5. The results suggest that fenofibrate and xuezhikang may have potential clinical application in the treatment of NAFLD. However, the side-effects of fenofibrate and the underlying constituents of xuezhikang need to be determined and investigated further.

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