Prevention of free fatty acid-induced lipid accumulation, oxidative stress, and cell death in primary hepatocyte cultures by a Gynostemma pentaphyllum extract

Phytomedicine. 2012 Mar 15;19(5):395-401. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2011.12.002. Epub 2012 Feb 29.


Hepatocytes of a primary cell culture that are exposed to high glucose, insulin, and linoleic (LA) acid concentration respond with lipid accumulation, oxidative stress up to cell death. Such alterations are typically found in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). We used this cellular model to study the effect of an ethanolic Gynostemma pentaphyllum (GP) extract in NAFLD. When hepatocytes were cultured in the presence of high insulin, glucose, and LA concentration the extract completely protected the cells from cell death. In parallel, the extract prevented accumulation of triglycerides (TGs) and cholesterol as well as oxidative stress. Our data further demonstrate that GP stimulates the production of nitric oxide (NO) in hepatocytes and affects the molecular composition of the mitochondrial phospholipid cardiolipin (CL). We conclude that GP is able to protect hepatocytes from cell death, lipid accumulation, and oxidative stress caused by diabetic-like metabolism and lipotoxicity. Therefore, GP could be beneficial for patients with diabetes mellitus and NAFLD.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiolipins / metabolism
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • Cholesterol / metabolism
  • F2-Isoprostanes / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / pharmacology*
  • Fatty Liver / prevention & control*
  • Glucose / pharmacology
  • Gynostemma / chemistry*
  • Hepatocytes / drug effects
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin / pharmacology
  • Linoleic Acids / pharmacology
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mitochondria, Liver / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Primary Cell Culture
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Triglycerides / metabolism


  • Cardiolipins
  • F2-Isoprostanes
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified
  • Insulin
  • Linoleic Acids
  • Plant Extracts
  • Triglycerides
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Cholesterol
  • Glucose