Extracts of bilberry ( Vaccinium myrtillus L.) fruits improve liver steatosis and injury in mice by preventing lipid accumulation and cell death

Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2019 Nov;83(11):2110-2120. doi: 10.1080/09168451.2019.1634514. Epub 2019 Jun 27.


Bilberry has been reported to have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. We studied the effect of bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) fruits extracts (BEs) on the pathogenesis caused by lipid accumulation in fatty liver and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). 5 μg/ml of BEs was enough to suppress lipid accumulation in the fatty liver model of the mouse hepatic AML12 cells. BEs increased cell viability and anti-oxidant capacity, presumably by activating (phosphorylating) Akt/STAT3 and inducing MnSOD/catalase. BEs also significantly reduced Rubicon and induced p62/SQSTM1, possibly contributing to reduce cellular lipids (lipophagy). When the mice were fed supplemented with BEs (5% or 10%, w/w), hepatic steatosis, injury, and hypercholesterolemia/hyperglycemia were significantly improved. Furthermore, histological and cytokine studies indicated that BEs possibly suppress hepatic inflammation (hepatitis) and fibrosis. Therefore, BEs improved liver steatosis and injury, and potentially suppress fibrosis by suppressing inflammatory response, which therefore may prevent the progression of fatty liver to NASH.

Keywords: Bilberry fruits; fatty liver; liver injury; non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Autophagy / drug effects
  • Cell Line
  • Fruit / chemistry*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / injuries*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / pathology
  • Mice
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / drug therapy*
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / metabolism
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / pathology
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Vaccinium myrtillus / chemistry*


  • Antioxidants
  • Plant Extracts