Original Article

Long-term baicalin administration ameliorates metabolic disorders and hepatic steatosis in rats given a high-fat diet

Authors: Hong-xia Guo, Dai-hua Liu, Ying Ma, Jin-feng Liu, Ying Wang, Zhi-yan Du, Xin Wang, Jing-kang Shen, Hong-li Peng
DOI: 10.1038/aps.2009.150


Aim: Baicalin, one of the major flavonoids in Scutellaria baicalensis, possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. However, the effects of baicalin on metabolic disorders and hepatic steatosis have not been investigated.
Methods: Body weight was examined in high-fat diet (HFD)-fed rats with or without baicalin treatment. At the end of the experiment, serum biochemical parameters, liver histology and lipid profile were analyzed to assess whether the animals were suffering from metabolic disorders or hepatic steatosis. In the liver, the phosphorylation of AMP activated protein kinase (AMPK) and acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC) and the gene expression of some enzymes involved in lipogenesis were examined. The effects of baicalin on the phosphorylation of AMPK and lipid accumulation induced by high glucose in human hepatoma HepG2 cells were also examined.
Results: Baicalin (80 mg/kg) administered ip for 16 weeks suppressed body weight gain in HFD-fed rats. Weight reduction was accompanied by the reduction of visceral fat mass. Baicalin significantly decreased the elevated serum cholesterol, free fatty acid and insulin concentrations caused by the HFD. Baicalin also suppressed systemic inflammation by reducing the serum level of tumor necrosis factor α. Baicalin reduced hepatic lipid accumulation, enhanced the phosphorylation of AMPK and ACC and down-regulated genes involved in lipogenesis, including fatty acid synthase and its upstream regulator SREBP-1c. In HepG2 cells, baicalin (5 and 10 μmol/L) increased the phosphorylation of AMPK and decreased lipid accumulation following the addition of high glucose.
Conclusion: Our study suggests that baicalin might have beneficial effects on the development of hepatic steatosis and obesity-related disorders by targeting the hepatic AMPK.

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