Cycloastragenol improves hepatic steatosis by activating farnesoid X receptor signalling

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Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has become a global health problem. However, there is no approved therapy for NAFLD. Farnesoid X receptor (FXR) is a potential drug target for treatment of NAFLD. In an attempt to screen FXR agonists, we found that cycloastragenol (CAG), a natural occurring compound in Astragali Radix, stimulated FXR transcription activity. In animal studies, we demonstrated that CAG treatment resulted in obvious reduction of high-fat diet induced lipid accumulation in liver accompanied by lowered blood glucose, serum triglyceride levels and hepatic bile acid pool size. The stimulation of FXR signalling by CAG treatment in DIO mice was confirmed via gene expression and western blot analysis. Molecular docking data further supported the interaction of CAG and FXR. In addition, CAG alleviated hepatic steatosis in methionine and choline deficient L-amino acid diet (MCD) induced non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) mice. Our data suggest that CAG ameliorates NAFLD via the enhancement of FXR signalling.

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