Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a comorbidity of obesity, which gradually develops from hepatic steatosis into steatohepatitis (NASH) and eventually even into fibrosis or hepatic carcinoma. To date, there has been no specific and effective treatment for NAFLD. Sarcopoterium spinosum
extract (SSE) was found to improve insulin sensitivity. Recognizing the intimate link between insulin resistance and NAFLD, the aim of this study was to investigate the effectivity of SSE in the prevention and management of NAFLD at various severities. SSE was given to high-fat diet (HFD)-fed mice (steatosis model) or to mice given a Western diet (WD) in the short or long term (NASH prevention or treatment, respectively). SSE reduced body weight accumulation, improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity and prevented the development of hepatic steatosis. SSE also blocked the progression of liver disease toward NASH in a dose-dependent manner. The expression of genes involved in lipid metabolism, inflammation, and antioxidant machinery was regulated by SSE in both models of steatosis and NASH development. However, SSE failed to reverse the hepatic damage in the advanced model of NASH. In summary, SSE might be considered as a botanical supplement for the prevention and treatment of hepatic steatosis, and for slowing the deterioration toward NASH.
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