Abstract: Hypercholesterolemia, characterized by an increase in plasma low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and total cholesterol (TC), is the leading cause of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The present study examined the effect of Heukcha extract (HCE), a naturally post-fermented green tea extract, on diet-induced hypercholesterolemia and related NAFLD in hamsters that metabolize lipids in a similar fashion to humans. The 10-week-old golden Syrian hamsters were fed a normal diet (ND) or a high cholesterol diet (HCD) containing 0.2% cholesterol and 10% lard, and some were also given HCE (200 or 500 mg/kg/day) orally for 12 weeks. The HCE did not affect the body weight gain, food intake, or the calorie intake. HCD significantly (p < 0.05) increased LDL (0.9 to 2.1 mmol/L), TC (2.7 to 7.8 mmol/L), and triglyceride (TG; 2.3 to 4.0 mmol/L), which was significantly decreased by 27.7%, 17.3%, and 60%, respectively, by HCE. HDL was significantly increased by HCD (0.6 to 1.6 mmol/L), but it was not affected by HCE administration. Furthermore, HCE suppressed HCD-induced liver oxidative stress, fibrosis, and lipid accumulation almost to control levels. Interestingly, HCE significantly increased the protein level of cholesterol 7 alpha-hydroxylase (CYP7A1), the rate-limiting enzyme for bile acid synthesis, by 1.5-fold in the liver. The present data suggest that HCE could be a functional food ingredient that can suppress the occurrence of diet-induced hypercholesterolemia and NAFLD, possibly by increasing the expression of CYP7A1.
- naturally post-fermented green tea