Background: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a chronic and progressive liver disease with an increased risk of morbidity and mortality. However, so far no specific pharmacotherapy has been approved. Gynostemma pentaphylla (Thunb.) Makino (GP) is a traditional Chinese medicine that is widely used against hyperlipemia as well as hyperglycemia. This study aims to evaluate the effect of GP on NAFLD and explore the possible mechanism.
Methods: High-fat-diet induced NAFLD mice model were orally administrated with GP at dose of 11.7 g/kg or equivalent volume of distilled water once a day for 16 weeks. Body weight, food intake and energy expenditure were assessed to evaluate the general condition of mice. The triglycerides, total cholesterol content in the liver and liver histopathology, serum lipid profile and serum insulin level, fecal microbiome, hepatic microRNAs and relative target genes were analyzed.
Results: Mice in GP treatment group displayed improved hepatic triglycerides content with lower lipid droplet in hepatocyte and NAFLD activity score. Besides, GP treatment altered the composition of gut microbiota and the relative abundance of some of the key components that are implicated in metabolic disorders, especially phylum Firmicutes (Eubacterium, Blautia, Clostridium and Lactobacillus). Several hepatic microRNAs were downregulated by GP treatment such as miR-130a, miR-34a, miR-29a, miR-199a, among which the expression miR-34a was altered by more than four-fold compared to that of HFD group (3:14). The correlation analysis showed that miR-34a was strongly related to the change of gut microbiota especially phylum Firmicutes (R = 0.796). Additionally, the target genes of miR-34a (HNF4α, PPARα and PPARα) were restored by GP both in mRNA and protein levels.
Conclusion: Our results suggested that GP modulated the gut microbiota and suppressed hepatic miR-34a, which was associated with the amelioration of hepatic steatosis.
Keywords: Gut microbiota; Gynostemma pentaphylla (Thunb.) Makino; Lipid metabolism; Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; miR-34a.