Astragalus polysaccharide prevents heart failure-induced cachexia by alleviating excessive adipose expenditure in white and brown adipose tissue

Lipids Health Dis. 2023 Jan 21;22(1):9. doi: 10.1186/s12944-022-01770-3.


Background: Astragalus polysaccharide (APS) is a key active ingredient isolated from Astragalus membranaceus that has been reported to be a potential treatment for obesity and diabetes by regulating lipid metabolism and adipogenesis, alleviating inflammation, and improving insulin resistance. However, whether APS regulates lipid metabolism in the context of cachexia remains unclear. Therefore, this study analysed the effects of APS on lipid metabolism and adipose expenditure in a heart failure (HF)-induced cardiac cachexia rat model. METHODS: A salt-sensitive hypertension-induced cardiac cachexia rat model was used in the present study. Cardiac function was detected by echocardiography. The histological features and fat droplets in fat tissue and liver were observed by H&E staining and Oil O Red staining. Immunohistochemical staining, Western blotting and RT‒qPCR were used to detect markers of lipolysis and adipose browning in white adipose tissue (WAT) and thermogenesis in brown adipose tissue (BAT). Additionally, sympathetic nerve activity and inflammation in adipose tissue were detected.

Results: Rats with HF exhibited decreased cardiac function and reduced adipose accumulation as well as adipocyte atrophy. In contrast, administration of APS not only improved cardiac function and increased adipose weight but also prevented adipose atrophy and FFA efflux in HF-induced cachexia. Moreover, APS inhibited HF-induced lipolysis and browning of white adipocytes since the expression levels of lipid droplet enzymes, including HSL and perilipin, and beige adipocyte markers, including UCP-1, Cd137 and Zic-1, were suppressed after administration of APS. In BAT, treatment with APS inhibited PKA-p38 MAPK signalling, and these effects were accompanied by decreased thermogenesis reflected by decreased expression of UCP-1, PPAR-γ and PGC-1α and reduced FFA β-oxidation in mitochondria reflected by decreased Cd36, Fatp-1 and Cpt1. Moreover, sympathetic nerve activity and interleukin-6 levels were abnormally elevated in HF rats, and astragalus polysaccharide could inhibit their activity.

Conclusion: APS prevented lipolysis and adipose browning in WAT and decreased BAT thermogenesis. These effects may be related to suppressed sympathetic activity and inflammation. This study provides a potential approach to treat HF-induced cardiac cachexia.

Keywords: Adipose expenditure; Astragalus polysaccharide; Brown adipose tissue; Cardiac cachexia; White adipose tissue.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue, Brown* / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue, White / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cachexia / drug therapy
  • Cachexia / etiology
  • Cachexia / prevention & control
  • Health Expenditures
  • Heart Failure* / complications
  • Heart Failure* / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Rats