In vitro assessment of nutraceutical compounds and novel nutraceutical formulations in a liver-steatosis-based model.

Stellavato A1, Pirozzi AVA1, de Novellis F1, Scognamiglio I1, Vassallo V1, Giori AM2, De Rosa M1, Schiraldi C3.
Source: Lipids in Health and Disease
Publication Date: ()
Issue: :
Cells used in publication:
Hepatocyte, human
Species: human
Tissue Origin: liver



Steatosis is a chronic liver disease that depends on the accumulation of intracellular fatty acids. Currently, no drug treatment has been licensed for steatosis; thus, only nutritional guidelines are indicated to reduce its progression. The aim of this study is to combine different nutraceutical compounds in order to evaluate their synergistic effects on a steatosis in vitro model compared to their separate use. In particular, three different formulations based on silymarin, curcumin, vitamin E, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), choline, and phosphatidylcholine were assayed.


Human hepatocellular carcinoma cells (HepG2 cell line) were treated with a mixture of fatty acids in order to induce an in vitro model of steatosic cells, and then the amount of intracellular fat was evaluated by Oil Red O staining. The peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors a and ? (PPARa and ?) expression, closely correlated to lipid metabolism, was evaluated. The efficiency of these receptors was evaluated through the study of LPL mRNA expression, a marker involved in the lipolysis mechanism. Superoxide dismutase (SOD-2) and malondialdehydes (MDA) in lipid peroxidation were assayed as specific biomarkers of oxidative stress. In addition, experiments were performed using human liver cells stressed to obtain a steatosis model. In particular, the content of the intracellular fat was assayed using Oil Red O staining, the activation of PPARa and ? was evaluated through western blotting analyses, and the LPL mRNA expression level was analyzed through qRT-PCR.


All formulations proved effective on lipid content reduction of about 35%. The oxidative stress damage was reduced by all the substances separately and even more efficiently by the same in formulation (i.e. Formulation 1 and Formulation 3, which reduced the SOD-2 expression and induced the PPARs activation). Lipid peroxidation, was reduced about 2 fold by foormulation2 and up to 5 fold by the others compared to the cells pretreated with H2O2.Formulation 1, was more effective on PPAR? expression (2.5 fold increase) respect to the other compounds on FA treated hepathocytes. Beside, LPL was activated also by Formulation 3 and resulted in a 5 to 9 fold-increase respect to FA treated control.


Our results proved that the formulations tested could be considered suitable support to face steatosis disease beside the mandatory dietetic regimen