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Journal of Integrative Medicine ›› 2014, Vol. 12 ›› Issue (3): 135-146.doi: 10.1016/S2095-4964(14)60023-6

• Review • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Efficacy of polyphenolic ingredients of Chinese herbs in treating dyslipidemia of metabolic syndromes

Zemin Yaoa,b, Li Zhangb, Guang Jib,c   

  1. Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, Ottawa Institute of System Biology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa K1H 8M5, Canada
    Institute of Digestive Diseases, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 200032,China
    E-institute of Shanghai Municipal Education Commission, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 200032, China
  • Received:2013-12-12 Accepted:2014-03-07 Online:2014-05-10 Published:2014-06-26

There is an increasing interest and popularity of Chinese herbal medicine worldwide, which is accompanied by increasing concerns about its effectiveness and potential toxicity. Several ingredients, such as polyphenolic compounds berberine, flavonoids, and curcumin, have been studied extensively by using various animal models. Effectiveness of treatment and amelioration of metabolic syndromes, including insulin resistance and dyslipidemia, has been demonstrated. This review summarizes the major checkpoints and contributing factors in regulation of exogenous and endogenous lipid metabolism, with particular emphasis centered on triglyceride-rich and cholesterol-rich lipoproteins. Available experimental evidence demonstrating the lipid-lowering effect of berberine, flavonoids and curcumin in cell culture and animal models is compiled, and the strengths and shortcomings of experimental designs in these studies are discussed.

Key words: Drugs, Chinese herbal, Metabolic syndromes, Dyslipidemias, Reviews

Figure 1

Schematic representation of exogenous (A) and endogenous (B) lipid metabolism in humans The exogenous lipid metabolism encompasses the process of (i) lipid (e.g., cholesterol) absorption by enterocytes (mediated by ABCG5/8 and NPC1L1), (ii) formation of ApoB-48-containing chylomicrons, (iii) hydrolysis catalyzed by LPL (in complex with GPIHBP1), (iv) utilization of free fatty acids by muscle or adipocytes, and (v) uptake of chylomicron remnants by the liver (through LRP1-mediated endocytosis). The endogenous lipid metabolism includes (i) assembly and secretion of ApoB-100-containing VLDL (facilitated by MTP and ApoC3 in the liver), (ii) conversion of VLDL into remnants and eventually into LDL through the action of LPL and HL, (iii) utilization of free fatty acids, and (iv) clearance of LDL through LDLR-mediated endocytosis by the liver and peripheral tissues (e.g., steroidogenic cells). Formation of HDL and its metabolism are not shown. A-I: apolipoprotein A-I; A-IV: apolipoprotein A-IV; B100: apolipoprotein B-100; B48: apolipoprotein B-48; ABCG5/8: ATP-binding cassette transporter G5 and G8; Cs: apolipoprotein Cs; E: apolipoprotein E; FFA: free fatty acids; GPIHBP1: glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored high-density lipoprotein binding protein 1; HL: hepatic lipase; LDL: low-density lipoprotein; LDLR: low-density lipoprotein receptor; LPL: lipoprotein lipase; LRP1: low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1; MTP: microsomal triglyceride-transfer protein; NPC1L1: Niemann-Pick C1-like 1; VLDL: very-low-density lipoprotein."

Figure 2

Potential targets of the effective ingredients of Chinese herbal medicine in lipoprotein metabolismMajor pathways responsible for fatty acid, triglyceride and cholesterol metabolism are depicted, and protein/lipid factors lipoprotein assembly and secretion are shown. Proteins whose level of expression can be affected by berberine and curcumin treatment are shown (in red). For simplicity, signaling pathways and molecules regulating the expression of these protein/lipid factors are omitted."


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