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Mitigation of high-fat diet-induced hepatic steatosis by thyme ( Thymus quinquecostatus Celak) polyphenol-rich extract (TPE): insights into gut microbiota modulation and bile acid metabolism.

Food & Function 2024 Februrary 3
Our previous study demonstrated that thyme polyphenol-rich extract (TPE) mitigated hepatic injury induced by a high-fat diet (HFD) through the regulation of lipid metabolism, promotion of short-chain fatty acid production, enhancement of intestinal barrier function, and attenuation of inflammation. In this study, we aimed to further elucidate additional mechanisms underlying TPE-mediated preventive effects on hepatic steatosis, with a specific focus on its impact on the gut microbiota and bile acid (BA) metabolism in HFD-fed mice. TPE treatment resulted in a significant reduction in serum total BA levels and a notable increase in fecal total BA levels. In particular, elevations in fecal conjugated BA levels, in turn, impede intestinal farnesoid X receptor (FXR) signaling, thereby enhancing hepatic synthesis and fecal excretion of BAs. The downregulated mRNA expression levels of intestinal Fxr and Fgf15 , and hepatic Fgfr4 , along with the upregulated mRNA expression levels of Cyp7a1 and Cyp27a1 after TPE treatment also prove the above inference. Meanwhile, TPE appeared to promote BA efflux and enterohepatic circulation, as evidenced by changes in the mRNA levels of Bsep , Ntpc , Shp , Asbt , Ibabp , and Ostα / β . TPE also modulated the gut microbiota and was characterized by an increased relative abundance of Lactobacillus . Furthermore, antibiotic treatment depleted the intestinal flora in mice, also abrogating the hepatoprotective effect of TPE against NAFLD. These findings collectively indicate that TPE effectively mitigates HFD-induced NAFLD by modulating the gut-liver axis, specifically targeting the gut microbiota and bile acid metabolism.

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