Monascus purpureus-fermented rice inhibits tumor necrosis factor-α-induced upregulation of matrix metalloproteinase 2 and 9 in human aortic smooth muscle cells

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Inflammation is associated with atherosclerosis. Cholestin (Monascus purpureus-fermented rice) contains a naturally occurring statin, which has lipid-modulating, anti-inflammatory and antioxidative effects. This study aimed to investigate the effects of Cholestin extract on the expression of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 and MMP-9 by tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α-treated human aortic smooth muscle cells (HASMCs).


Zymography, reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction and immunoblot analyses were used for analysis of MMP expression of TNF-α-stimulated HASMCs. Gel shift assay was used for analysis of transcription factor nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) activation. Intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation was also analysed.

Key findings

The supplement of HASMCs with Cholestin extract significantly suppresses enzymatic activities of MMP-2 and MMP-9 in TNF-α-stimulated HASMCs. RT-PCR and immunoblot analyses show that Cholestin extract significantly attenuates TNF-α-induced mRNA and protein expressions of MMP-2 and MMP-9. Gel shift assays show that Cholestin treatment reduces TNF-α-activated NF-κB. Furthermore, Cholestin also attenuates intracellular ROS generation in TNF-α-treated HASMCs. The supplement with an ROS scavenger N-acetyl-cysteine (glutathione precursor) gives similar results to Cholestin.


Cholestin reduces TNF-α-stimulated MMP-2 and MMP-9 expression as well as downregulating NF-κB activation and intracellular ROS formation in HASMCs, supporting the notion that the natural compound Cholestin may have potential application in clinical atherosclerosis disease.

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