Attenuation of fatty liver and prevention of hypercholesterolemia by extract of Curcuma longa through regulating the expression of CYP7A1, LDL-receptor, HO-1, and HMG-CoA reductase

J Food Sci. 2011 Apr;76(3):H80-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2011.02042.x.


The extract of Curcuma longa, better known as turmeric, was orally administered to experimental rats that were fed a high-cholesterol diet to investigate whether it could regulate plasma lipids and cholesterol levels and possibly improve hepatic conditions. With turmeric supplements, rats showed a significant decrease in total plasma cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol but an increase in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol when compared with rats that were fed a high-cholesterol diet alone. Fatty liver developed in hypercholesterolemic rats with the high-cholesterol diet treatment, and this condition was markedly improved when rats were provided with turmeric supplements at 100 mg/kg or 300 mg/kg of body mass. The turmeric treatment resulted in a significant decrease in the total amount of hepatic lipid. Histological staining of liver tissues with Sudan III and hematoxylin showed that rats fed with a high-cholesterol diet alone had more and larger granular fat bodies than rats having turmeric extract supplementation in their high-cholesterol diet. Reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction was used to assess the expression levels of enzymes involved in fat metabolism and cellular homeostasis in experimental rat livers. The results showed that rats fed a high-cholesterol diet supplemented with turmeric extract had a significant increase in the expression of cholesterol 7 α-hydroxylase, hemeoxygenase 1, and low-density lipoprotein receptors but a significant decrease in 3-hydroxy-3-methyl-glutaryl-CoA reductase level when compared with rats fed a normal or high-cholesterol diet, showing that turmeric prevents hypercholesterolemia and the formation of fatty liver by the modulation of expressions of enzymes that are important to cholesterol metabolism.

Practical application: Turmeric may be considered a functional food for regulating plasma cholesterol levels and preventing the development of fatty liver in people who frequently consume a high-cholesterol diet.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / pharmacology
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cholesterol 7-alpha-Hydroxylase / genetics
  • Cholesterol 7-alpha-Hydroxylase / metabolism
  • Curcuma / chemistry*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Fatty Liver / blood
  • Fatty Liver / drug therapy*
  • Fatty Liver / metabolism
  • Fatty Liver / pathology
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Heme Oxygenase (Decyclizing) / genetics
  • Heme Oxygenase (Decyclizing) / metabolism
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl CoA Reductases / genetics
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl CoA Reductases / metabolism
  • Hypercholesterolemia / prevention & control*
  • Isoenzymes / genetics
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects
  • Liver / enzymology*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / pathology
  • Male
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Random Allocation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, LDL / genetics
  • Receptors, LDL / metabolism
  • Rhizome / chemistry


  • Anticholesteremic Agents
  • Isoenzymes
  • Plant Extracts
  • Receptors, LDL
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl CoA Reductases
  • Heme Oxygenase (Decyclizing)
  • CYP7A1 protein, rat
  • Cholesterol 7-alpha-Hydroxylase