In vivo hypolipidemic effects and safety of low dosageMonascuspowder in a hamster model of hyperlipidemia

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Monascus or more commonly known as red mold rice is fermented rice on which Monascus purpureus has been grown. It has been a traditional Chinese food additive for thousands of years in China. Secondary metabolite product of Monascus, monacolin K, has been proven that it could be used as an antihypercholesterolemic agent. In this study, M. purpureus NTU568 mutated and selected from a monacolin K productivity strain—M. purpureus HM105 produced high quantities of monacolin K at a level of 9,500 mg kg-1. This research focused on the effect of adding red mold rice powder of M. purpureus NTU568 to a hamster diet on total cholesterol (TC), triglyceride (TG), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C). In the results, the oral administration of Monascus powder in hyperlipidemia hamster was indeed proven to decrease TC, TG, and LDL-C levels. Plasma TC levels in hamster fed with Monascus powder at onefold dosage [10.78 mg (day 100 g bw)-1] for 4 and 8 weeks were significantly lower (31.2 and 22.0%, respectively) than that in hyperlipidemia hamster. Plasma TG (30.1 and 17.9%) and LDL-C levels (36.0 and 20.7%) were also significantly lowered by feeding Monascus powder at onefold dosage for 4 and 8 weeks compared to hyperlipidemia hamster. In addition, examinations of liver TC and TG levels of hyperlipidemia hamster were also performed and showed similar effects on lipid-lowering action by oral administration of Monascus powder. Since citrinin is a mycotoxin that possesses nephrotoxic and hepatoxic effects, it has a negative impact on the safety of red mold rice for people. This study examined the liver somatic index [plasma glutamyl oxaloacetic transaminase (GOT) and glutamyl pyruvic transaminase (GPT) levels] and liver biopsy to investigate whether Monascus powder induced damage in liver. It was found that the plasma GOT and GPT levels were not significantly increased by feeding Monascus powder. There was no difference in the results of the liver biopsy between the Monascus powder-treated groups and the control group.

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