Monascin and ankaflavin act as natural AMPK activators with PPARα agonist activity to down-regulate nonalcoholic steatohepatitis in high-fat diet-fed C57BL/6 mice

Wei-Hsuan Hsu, Ting-Hung Chen, Bao-Hong Lee, Ya-Wen Hsu, Tzu-Ming Pan
Food and Chemical Toxicology 2014, 64: 94-103
Yellow pigments monascin (MS) and ankaflavin (AK) are secondary metabolites derived from Monascus-fermented products. The hypolipidemic and anti-inflammatory effects of MS and AK indicate that they have potential on preventing or curing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Oleic acid (OA) and high-fat diet were used to induce steatosis in FL83B hepatocytes and NAFLD in mice, respectively. We found that both MS and AK prevented fatty acid accumulation in hepatocytes by inhibiting fatty acid uptake, lipogenesis, and promoting fatty acid beta-oxidation mediated by activating peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-α and AMP-activated kinase (AMPK). Furthermore, MS and AK significantly attenuated high-fat diet-induced elevation of total cholesterol (TC), triaceylglycerol (TG), free fatty acid (FFA), and low density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C) in plasma. MS and AK promoted AMPK phosphorylation, suppressed the steatosis-related mRNA expression and inflammatory cytokines secretion, as well as upregulated farnesoid X receptor (FXR), peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma co-activator (PGC)-1α, and PPARα expression to induce fatty acid oxidation in the liver of mice. We provided evidence that MS and AK act as PPARα agonists to upregulate AMPK activity and attenuate NAFLD. MS and AK may be supplied in food supplements or developed as functional foods to reduce the risk of diabetes and obesity.

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