Apigenin, a modulator of PPARγ, attenuates HFD-induced NAFLD by regulating hepatocyte lipid metabolism and oxidative stress via Nrf2 activation

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Lipid metabolic disorders and oxidative stress in the liver are key steps in the progression of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is a major risk factor for the development of metabolic syndrome. To date, no pharmacological treatment for this condition has been approved. Our previous study has found that the food-derived compound apigenin (Api) significantly attenuates obesity-induced metabolic syndrome by acting as a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma modulator (PPARM). Herein, a high fat diet (HFD) induced NAFLD model was used to dig out whether Api had the effect on NAFLD. The results showed that Api had obvious effect in restraining NAFLD progression, including attenuating HFD induced lipid accumulation and oxidative stress in vivo. As a PPARM, although Api did significantly inhibit the expression of PPARγ target genes encoding the protein associated with lipid metabolism, it had no obvious activating effect on PPARγ. Interestingly, we found that Api promoted Nrf2 into the nucleus, thereby markedly activating Nrf2 to inhibit the lipid metabolism related genes and increase the oxidative stress related genes. Further Nrf2 knockdown/knockout and overexpression experiments showed that Api regulating PPARγ target genes was dependent on Nrf2 activation and the activation of Nrf2 counteracted the activation effect of PPARγ by Api. Importantly, we also found that Api might bind with Nrf2 via auto dock and ITC assay. Therefore, our results indicate that Api ameliorates NAFLD by a novel regulating mode of Nrf2 and PPARγ in inhibiting lipid metabolism and oxidative stress abnormity.

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