Astragaloside IV attenuates free fatty acid-induced ER stress and lipid accumulation in hepatocytes via AMPK activation
Although the pathogenesis of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is not completely understood, the increased influx of free fatty acids (FFAs) into the liver and the FFA-induced hepatic endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress are two crucial pathogenic processes in the initiation and development of NAFLD. In this study we investigated the effects of astragaloside IV (AS-IV), a bioactive compound purified from Astragali Radix, on FFA-induced lipid accumulation in hepatocytes and elucidated the underlying mechanisms. Human HepG2 cells and primary murine hepatocytes were exposed to FFAs (1 mmol/L, oleate/palmitate, 2:1 ratio) with or without AS-IV for 24 h. Exposure to FFAs induced marked lipid accumulation in hepatocytes, whereas co-treatment with AS-IV (100 μg/mL) significantly attenuated this phenomenon. Notably, AS-IV (50–200 μg/mL) concentration-dependently enhanced the phosphorylation of AMPK, acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC) and SREBP-1c, inhibited the accumulation and nuclear translocation of mature SREBP-1 and subsequently decreased the mRNA levels of lipogenic genes including acc1, fas and scd1. AS-IV treatment also concentrationdependently attenuated FFA-induced hepatic ER stress evidenced by the reduction of the key markers, GRP78, CHOP and p-PERK. Pretreated the cells with the AMPK inhibitor compound C (20 μmol/L) greatly diminished these beneficial effects of AS-IV. Our results demonstrate that AS-IV attenuates FFA-induced ER stress and lipid accumulation in an AMPK-dependent manner in hepatocytes, which supports its use as promising therapeutics for hepatic steatosis.