Anti-atherosclerotic effect of Fermentum Rubrum and Gynostemma pentaphyllum mixture in high-fat emulsion- and vitamin D 3-induced atherosclerotic rats

J Chin Med Assoc. 2018 May;81(5):398-408. doi: 10.1016/j.jcma.2017.08.018. Epub 2017 Oct 27.


Background: The mixture of Hongqu and gypenosides (HG) is composed of Fermentum Rubrum (Hongqu, in Chinese) and total saponins of Gynostemma pentaphyllum (Thunb.) Makino (Jiaogulan, in Chinese) in a 3.6:1 weight ratio. Both Hongqu and Jiaogulan are considered valuable traditional Chinese medicines (TCMs); they have been commonly used in China for the treatment of hyperlipidemia and related diseases for centuries. The aim of the current study was assess the anti-atherosclerotic effect of HG.

Methods: Sixty-four Wistar rats were randomly divided into eight groups: normal, model, positive control (simvastatin, 1 mg/kg), Hongqu-treated (72 mg/kg), gypenoside (total saponin)-treated (20 mg/kg), and three doses HG-treated (50, 100, and 200 mg/kg). All of the rats were fed a basal diet. Additionally, the model group rats were intragastrically administered a high-fat emulsion and intraperitoneally injected with vitamin D3. The serum lipid profiles, oxidative stress, inflammatory cytokine, and hepatic antioxidant levels were then determined. Furthermore, the liver histopathology and arterial tissue were analyzed, and the expression of hyperlipidemia- and atherosclerosis (AS)-related genes was measured using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction.

Results: The AS rat model was established after 80 days. Compared to the model group, the HG-treated groups showed an obvious improvement in the serum lipid profiles, oxidative stress, and inflammatory cytokine levels, and showed markedly increased hepatic total antioxidant capacity. Moreover, the expression of genes related to lipid synthesis and inflammation reduced and that of the genes related to lipid oxidation increased in the liver and arterial tissue, which also reflected an improved health condition.

Conclusion: the anti-atherosclerotic effects of HG were superior to those of simvastatin, Hongqu, and the gypenosides. Therefore, HG may be a useful anti-atherosclerotic TCM preparation.

Keywords: Atherosclerosis; Fermentum Rubrum; Gynostemma pentaphyllum; Gypenosides; Hyperlipidemia; Red yeast rice.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atherosclerosis / chemically induced
  • Atherosclerosis / drug therapy*
  • Cholecalciferol / pharmacology*
  • Diet, High-Fat
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Emulsions
  • Gynostemma / chemistry*
  • Lipids / blood
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / pathology
  • Male
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional*
  • Monascus / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Emulsions
  • Lipids
  • Plant Extracts
  • gypenoside
  • Cholecalciferol