Effects of crocin and saffron aqueous extract on gene expression of SIRT1, AMPK, LOX1, NF-κB, and MCP-1 in patients with coronary artery disease: A randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial

Phytother Res. 2020 May;34(5):1114-1122. doi: 10.1002/ptr.6580. Epub 2019 Dec 3.


This trial evaluated the potential impacts of saffron aqueous extract (SAE) and its main carotenoid on some of the atherosclerosis-related gene expression and serum levels of oxidized low-density cholesterol (ox-LDL) and Monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1) in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD). Participants of this randomized controlled trial included 84 CAD patients who categorized into three groups: Group 1 received crocin (30 mg/day), Group 2 SAE (30 mg/day), and Group 3 placebo for 8 weeks. Gene expression of Sirtuin 1 (SIRT1), 5'-adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK), Lectin-like oxidized LDL receptor 1 (LOX1), nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NF-κB), and MCP-1 in peripheral blood mononuclear cells assessed by real-time PCR. Furthermore, serum ox-LDL and MCP-1 levels measured at the beginning and end of the intervention. Compared with the placebo group, gene expression of SIRT1 and AMPK increased significantly in the crocin group (p = .001), and the expression of LOX1 and NF-κB decreased significantly (p = .016 and .004, respectively). Serum ox-LDL levels decreased significantly in the crocin group after the intervention (p = .002) while MCP-1 levels decreased both in crocin and SAE groups (p = .001). Crocin may have beneficial effects on CAD patients by increasing the gene expression of SIRT1 and AMPK and decreasing the expression of LOX1 and NF-κB.

Keywords: AMPK; LOX1; NF-κB; SIRT1; coronary artery disease; crocin.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carotenoids / chemistry*
  • Chemokine CCL2 / metabolism*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / drug therapy*
  • Crocus / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism*
  • Sirtuin 1 / chemistry*
  • Sirtuin 1 / metabolism


  • Chemokine CCL2
  • NF-kappa B
  • Carotenoids
  • crocin
  • SIRT1 protein, human
  • Sirtuin 1