Background & Aims Anthocyanins may have beneficial effects on lipid metabolism and inflammation and are demonstrated to have hepatoprotective properties in models of restraint-stress- and chemically-induced liver damage. However, their potential to protect against non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) under conditions relevant for human pathogenesis remains unclear. Therefore, we studied the effects of the standardised anthocyanin-rich extract Mirtoselect on diet-induced NASH in a translational model of disease. Methods ApoE∗3Leiden mice were fed a Western-type cholesterol-containing diet without (HC) or with 0.1% (w/w) Mirtoselect (HCM) for 20 weeks to study the effects on diet-induced NASH. Results Mirtoselect attenuated HC-induced hepatic steatosis, as observed by decreased macro- and microvesicular hepatocellular lipid accumulation and reduced hepatic cholesteryl ester content. This anti-steatotic effect was accompanied by local anti-inflammatory effects in liver, as demonstrated by reduced inflammatory cell clusters and reduced neutrophil infiltration in HCM. On a molecular level, HC diet significantly induced hepatic expression of pro-inflammatory genes Tnf, Emr1, Ccl2, Mpo, Cxcl1, and Cxcl2 while this induction was less pronounced or significantly decreased in HCM. A similar quenching effect was observed for HC-induced pro-fibrotic genes, Acta2 and Col1a1 and this anti-fibrotic effect of Mirtoselect was confirmed histologically. Many of the pro-inflammatory and pro-fibrotic parameters positively correlated with intrahepatic free cholesterol levels. Mirtoselect significantly reduced accumulation and crystallisation of intrahepatic free cholesterol, providing a possible mechanism for the observed hepatoprotective effects. Conclusions Mirtoselect attenuates development of NASH, reducing hepatic lipid accumulation, inflammation and fibrosis, possibly mediated by local anti-inflammatory effects associated with reduced accumulation and crystallisation of intrahepatic free cholesterol.
Morrison, M. C., Liang, W., Mulder, P., Verschuren, L., Pieterman, E., Toet, K., … Kleemann, R. (2015). Mirtoselect, an anthocyanin-rich bilberry extract, attenuates non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and associated fibrosis in ApoE∗3Leiden mice. Journal of Hepatology, 62(5), 1180–1186. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhep.2014.12.011